EM Repeal Petition Tossed in Michigan

EM Repeal Petition Tossed in Michigan April 30, 2012

I’m sure by now you all know about the appalling emergency manager law here in Michigan, which allows the state to appoint someone to essentially become dictators over cities and school districts. Michigan voters oppose it by a large margin, according to polls, and more than 200,000 people signed petitions to put a referendum on the ballot to repeal it. But opponents of repeal got the state board of canvassers to throw out those petitions — because the font was slightly too small. Seriously.

Republicans cited the wrong font size on the title of the petitions circulated by Stand Up For Democracy, a coalition of groups that launched the petition campaign, as the reason for not approving the initiative for the ballot. Opponents gathered 203,238 signatures, roughly 40,000 more than needed to get a repeal question on the ballot.

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit Branch NAACP and pastor of Fellowship Chapel, vowed to continue the fight in the Court of Appeals.

“The constitution was not judged on the basis of font size,” he said. “We have to stay on the battlefield. It’s going to the public courts. It’s not over.”

Rashid Baydoun, executive director of the Arab-American Civil Rights League, struggled to contain his emotions. “Unbelievable,” he said after the vote. “The will of the people was denied. All we ask is for Michigan people to be able to decide.”

It takes a 3-1 vote of the board and it was deadlocked 2-2, with the two Republicans on the board — including a partner in the law firm that filed the motion to dismiss the petitions — voting against it. The triumph of legal hyper-technicalities over democracy.

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