Michigan Bill to Outlaw Paying Petitioners on a Per-Signature Basis

A group of Michigan legislators have introduced HB 5210, which says paid petition circulators can only be paid an hourly wage. The bill says they cannot be paid on a per-signature basis. The bill says nothing about bonus payments to circulators who perform well, but it seems to imply such bonuses would be illegal.

A virtually identical Ohio law was struck down by the Sixth Circuit in 2008, in Citizens for Tax Reform v Deters, 518 F 3d 375. Michigan is in the Sixth Circuit, so if HB 5210 passes, it would almost certainly be declared unconstitutional if anyone sued.

Also introduced was HB 5211, which says circulators are guilty of a crime if they say anything untrue to anyone they approach. That would probably also be struck down.

HB 5212, by the same legislators, requires paid petitioners to wear a badge that says the name of the person paying them to collect signatures. However the bill does not require the name of the circulator to be shown on the badge.

Thanks to John Anthony LaPietra for this news.

Christopher Roybal, Filmmaker, Will Try to Get on New Mexico Ballot as an Independent for Governor

Christopher Roybal, a filmmaker, will attempt to get on the New Mexico ballot next year as an independent candidate for Governor. If he succeeds, he will be the first independent candidate for Governor to ever appear on a New Mexico ballot. New Mexico did not even permit independent candidates until 1977. New Mexico and Alabama are tied for having the most severe petition requirement for statewide independent candidates. Each state requires 3% of the last gubernatorial vote. No other state is more difficult than 2% of the last vote cast. See this story.

Maine Referendum on Ranked Choice Voting Begins to Circulate

On Monday, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap approved the petition form for supporters of ranked choice voting to use, to repeal the anti-ranked-choice bill that the legislature passed last month. See this story. The referendum petition needs 61,123 valid signatures by early February 2018. If the petition succeeds, the law passed last month is suspended, and the state will be obliged to use ranked choice voting for the June 2018 primary for all federal and state office. Thanks to Michael Chastain for the link.

Top-Two Supporters Submit Initiative Petition in South Dakota

On November 6, supporters of a top-two system submitted approximately 37,200 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Initiatives to change the state constitution this year need 27,741 valid signatures. If the petition is approved, the measure will appear on the November 2018 ballot.

The proposal does not cover statewide state offices other than Governor. If it were approved, parties would still have nominees for Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Auditor, School Commissioner, and Public Utilities Commissioner. But there would be no party nominees for Governor, Congress, state legislature, or county office.

Because the measure only amends the state constitution, it is not very detailed. It would be up to the legislature to pass laws on whether party labels would be allowed for voters who are registered members of unqualified parties. Also the legislature would decide how the ballot would explain to the voters that party labels for some office do mean the candidate is a party nominee, but for other offices, party labels don’t mean that the candidate is a party nominee. Here is the wording of the proposed change.

Money for the paid circulators came from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation of Houston, Texas, channeled through the New York city organization called Open Primaries.

There will probably be at least eight other initiatives on the November 2018 South Dakota ballot, although the number won’t be known until early next year, after the signatures are checked. Another initiative that submitted signatures would require a non-partisan commission to draw legislative district boundaries.