Statewide proposals pass, legalizing marijuana, addressing gerrymandering and "Promote the Vote"
Michigan residents have approved Proposal 1, legalizing Marijuana across the state; Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment that establishes a committee to carry out the congressional redistricting process; and Proposal 3, the “Promote the Vote” initiative.
Proposal 1 legalizes Marijuana across the state by allowing adults over 21 to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana, securely store up to 10 ounces and grow up to 12 plants per household. Businesses will now be allowed to apply for licenses to grow and sell marijuana, with sales being subjected to a 10 percent additional tax on top of the 6 percent sales tax in Michigan. This is expected to generate between $100 million and $200 million annually. The proposal allows cities to prohibit businesses from selling marijuana within their limits and employers to fire employees for using marijuana on the job.
Proponents of the proposal point to the medical and financial benefits of legalized marijuana in Michigan. Another main argument for the proposal was that police are spending too much time, money and resources on low-level marijuana offenders when the state faces more important criminal problems.
Michigan residents also voted to yes on Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment that establishes a committee composed of four Republicans, four Democrats, and five unaffiliated officials to carry out the congressional redistricting process. The amendment does away with the existing system that gives the power of drawing district lines every 10 years to the state legislature. This gives the majority party of the state legislature the power to redraw district lines. The amendment attempts to combat gerrymandering, the process of strategically drawing districts to yield political advantages in elections.
The proposal says districts need to be of equal population, compact, geographically contiguous, reflective of Michigan’s diverse population, and not designed to favor one political party.
Critics of the proposal argued that it gives the Secretary of State too much oversight and discretionary power. Under the amendment, the Secretary of State is in charge of processing and randomly selecting applications to be on the committee, although it allows the state Senate and House of Representatives majority and minority leaders the option to veto up to five applicants before the Secretary of State makes the final selection.
The proposal sets a timeline for action. The committee is set to convene by Oct. 15, 2020 and finalize a redistricting plan by November 1 of the following year.
Lastly, Voters have decided to pass the “Promote the Vote” initiative, which amends the state Constitution to expand voting rights. The amendment allows same-day voter registration, no-reason absentee ballot voting by mail, and reinstates straight-party voting. Michigan was one of 13 states that did not allow early voting, and one of 23 that did not give out absentee ballots without requiring an excuse.
Supporters of the amendment argued it would make voting more accessible and equitable, while critics claimed it would leave more loopholes for voter fraud. The amendment received the support of prominent civil rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters of Michigan.
Proposal 3 addresses voter suppression, an issue widely talked about across the nation leading up to the midterm elections. In Georgia, gubernatorial candidate and state Attorney General Brian Kemp purged the voter rolls under the justification of removing dead people and people who haven’t voted in recent elections. His office put 53,000 voter registrations on hold, nearly 70 percent of which were black voters, because the name used on the registration did not exactly match one on government records, including dropped apostrophes and hyphens.
Georgia is not alone. States like Indiana, Ohio, Nevada, and Florida have purged inactive voters from their rolls. North Dakota established a requirement that voters show a current residential address to vote, potentially preventing thousands of Native Americans who live on reservations without residential addresses from voting. North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature passed a law closing a fifth of the early voting locations across the state, affecting voters with less flexible work hours or no access to a car.