Michigan Democrats, Michigan Republicans — February 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

An idea to enhance democracy whose time has come: Vote for governor AND president in the same election in Michigan


Michigan is a hot political mess these days. Between an a tea party-led legislature that never seems to run out of ways to screw over the poor and the powerless to the Snyder administration that is so intent on saving money that they ended up poisoning a city’s water supply, there’s little fun or uplifting to write about for a political blogger.

However, THIS is something that is very encouraging. Via Brian Dickerson at the Detroit Free Press:

Frustrated by Republican success in low-turnout, off-year elections for state and local offices, a group of unidentified Democratic and independent activists is quietly promoting a ballot initiative that could transform Michigan’s political landscape by moving the elections for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state Senate to coincide with the presidential election cycle as early as 2020.

Recent history suggests such a change could boost voter turnout in elections for statewide office by as much as 50% — a development that would likely make Democratic candidates more competitive in those elections.

And preliminary polling suggests the proposal could be a hit with Michigan voters. In a randomized telephone survey of 600 Michigan voters conducted last week by EPIC-MRA, 60% of those polled expressed tentative support for conducting presidential and statewide elections on the same day, while just 32% were opposed to or leaning against it.

tl;dr version: it would increase voter turnout for the governor’s race by as much as 50% and voters love it by a 2:1 margin.

In the past two gubernatorial races, drop-off in voters from the previous presidential election year to the following gubernatorial election was 54% (2010) and 50% (2014).

More voters = better democracy because more people are expressing their preference.

It’s going to fun watching Republicans scramble to tell us how this is somehow bad. And you can be absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt sure that they will find ways to do that, no matter how much pretzel logic they need to pull out of their nether regions to do it. If history is any sort of guide (and it is), they’ll get their shills on the op-ed pages of our more conservative newspapers to carry their water on this, too. I’m looking at YOU, Nolan Finley.

The best part? This change can be done via a citizen-initiated referendum, the tactic used to pass Michigan’s odious “rape insurance” law. This avoids the need for the governor to sign it into law and, better yet, it bypasses the state legislature.

CORRECTION: As indicated in the comments, amending the Michigan constitution requires a directly initiated constitutional amendment. This route requires the collection of valid signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election and they must be submitted within 120 days of the next election where it will appear on the ballot as a ballot proposal, bypassing both the legislature and the governor. For this election cycle, this means 315,654 valid signatures must be collected within a 180-day window and submitted to be placed on the ballot. The “rape insurance” law was passed by the indirectly initiated state statute process which is different.

If this effort gets off the ground, I pledge all the resources of Eclectablog and my own personal free time to ensuring it passes. This is, simply put, good for democracy.

[CC photo credit: Tom Arthur | Wikimedia Commons]