Michigan’s 2018 Ballot Proposals
By Trenton Sabo, junior policy associate
Ballot Proposal 1: The Legalization of Marijuana
The legalization of marijuana is extremely popular in the State of Michigan. A clickondetroit.com poll found that Michigan residents in every age classification, with the exception of 65+, supported the universal legalization of marijuana in the state by at least ten percentage points. This left the final poll numbers to be 56.2 percent of Michigan residents support the legalization of marijuana, while 38 percent are against legalization; 5.8 percent were undecided. Should the proposal be passed, marijuana would be subject to the following rules and regulations:
- Permits the consumption of marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles
- Allows for any Michigan resident over the age of 21 to grow up to twelve marijuana plants for their own personal consumption
- Changes several violations regarding marijuana from crimes to civil infractions
- Imposes a 10% tax to fund implementation costs, clinical trials, schools, roads and municipalities
- Institutes a 10 oz. limit for marijuana kept at residences
- Requires amounts over 2.5 oz. to be secured and locked away
- Creates a state licensing system for marijuana dispensaries and gives municipalities the power to eliminate, or restrict them
Besides the increased tax revenue for the state of Michigan, the legalization of marijuana would also likely decrease the number of people behind bars. An ACLU report found that in 2010, 52 percent of drug-related arrests were for marijuana. The decriminalization of non-violent marijuana related offenses would, therefore, largely cut the costs of these arrests. The ACLU found that states wasted over 3 billion dollars in marijuana arrests in 2010 alone. The legalization of marijuana would also help protect minorities—especially black Americans who are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.
However, there has been pushback. The Detroit NAACP urged for communities to vote “no” on the proposal—stating, “the ballot initiative adds another layer to the systematic racism that has held our communities of color—particularly African Americans—in bondage for hundreds of years.” Kevin Sabet, the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), said later in a statement, “If you want rich white guys to sell pot gummy bears in your community, you should vote for this initiative.” What the NAACP and Sabet are concerned about is the likelihood white-owned marijuana venders will profit off of struggling minority communities, transporting the wealth from LMI minority communities to other, wealthier, majority white ones, increasing the racial poverty gap even further.
Ballot Proposal 2: Redistricting
Among the proposals, Ballot Proposal 2 will likely have the greatest effect on Michigan politics in the next decade. This proposal addresses one of the most hotly contested issues in the state since Michigan Republicans began redistricting at the turn of the century: gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is, in broad terms, the manipulation of an electoral boundary so as to favor one party over another. Michigan Democrats along with the non-partisan organization funding the proposal—Voters Not Politicians—claim that the current districts are gerrymandered in favor of Michigan Republicans.
There is evidence to support their claim. The efficiency gap, a mechanism that calculates the frequency wasted votes in a particular district, graded both Michigan legislative and congressional maps as “extreme.” Only three other states have grades as high as Michigan.
The S.o.S. selected commission would be composed of 13 registered voters, four of whom self-identify as affiliated with the two major political parties, and an additional five independent voters. Partisan officeholders and candidates, their employees, relatives and lobbyists are all prohibited from serving in the commission. In addition, this group will have to follow strict criteria in constructing new districts:
- Districts must be equal in population, comply with the federal Voting Rights Act and be single, unbroken shapes
- Maps cannot give an unfair advantage to any political party, politician or candidate
- Maps will take into account existing boundaries such as cities, townships and counties and will be reasonably compact
The proposal was added to the ballot after a Michigan State Supreme Court decision sent it to the ballot this past July. The leading backer to Proposal 2, Voters Not Politicians, refers to itself as “a nonpartisan, grassroots group working to pass Proposal 2 that will fix Michigan’s broken redistricting process.”
Ballot Proposal 3: The Relaxation of Voting Laws
This proposal aims to increase access to voting by easing restrictions to voter registration and absentee voting. Under the proposal, the following would be enacted:
- Michigan residents would automatically register to vote when applying for, updating or renewing a driver’s license—unless otherwise noted or the resident declines
- All restrictions involving deadlines pertinent to voter registration would be eliminated. (You can register to vote and vote on the same day)
- Residents could obtain an absentee voter ballot without providing a reason
- A “straight-vote” option would be added to the ballot (meaning that a voter could fill in one box to vote for the same party across the entirety of the ballot)
Overall, the proposal will likely increase voter registration rates, increase access to voting and could potentially increase voting in the state of Michigan. Ballot Proposal 3 is backed by Promote the Vote, which is backed by the ACLU, the Michigan State NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Michigan.
Make sure to flip your ballot over on Tuesday, November 6 to vote for Michigan’s 2018 ballot proposals!