2018 VOTING in MIDTERMS, NOVEMBER 6th
Below is our picks in purple
Select HERE for a printable PDF
SAMPLE BALLOT (ref: ... Our picks are PURPLE
Michigan Proposal 1: Marijuana Legalization Initiative … see explanation below
A "yes" vote supports legalizing the recreational use and possession of marijuana for persons 21 years of age or older and enacting a tax on marijuana sales.
A "no" vote opposes legalizing the recreational use and possession of marijuana for persons 21 years of age or older and enacting a tax on marijuana sales.
Michigan Proposal 2: Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative … see explanation below
A "yes" vote supports transferring the power to draw the state's congressional and legislative districts from the Michigan State Legislature to an independent redistricting commission.
A "no" vote opposes transferring the power to draw the state's congressional and legislative districts from the Michigan State Legislature to an independent redistricting commission.
Michigan Proposal 3: Voting Policies in State Constitution Initiative … see explanation below
A "yes" vote supports adding eight voting policies to the Michigan Constitution, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting.
A "no" vote opposes adding eight voting policies to the state constitution, maintaining that straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting are not used in Michigan.
Candidates for U.S. Senate Michigan
Debbie Stabenow (D) (Incumbent)
John James (R)
George Huffman III
John Howard Wilhelm
Marcia Squier (G)
Candidates for U.S. House Michigan District 5
Dan Kildee (D) (Incumbent)
Travis Wines (R)
Candidates for Governor of Michigan
Gretchen Whitmer (D)
Bill Schuette (R)
Bill Gelineau (L)
Jennifer Kurland (G)
Candidates for Michigan Secretary of State
Jocelyn Benson (D)
Mary Treder Lang (R)
Gregory Scott Stemple (L)
Candidates for Attorney General of Michigan
Dana Nessel (D)
Tom Leonard (R)
Gerald T. Van Sickle
Lisa Lane Gioia (L)
Candidates for Wayne State University Board of Governors (choose 2)
Brian Barnwell (D)
Anil Kumar (D)
Diane Dunaskiss (R) (Incumbent)
David Nicholson (R) (Incumbent)
Marc Joseph Sosnowski
Jon Elgas (L)
John Hargenrader (L)
Candidates for University of Michigan Board of Regents (choose 2)
Jordan Acker (D)
Paul Brown (D)
Andrea Fischer Newman (R) (Incumbent)
Andrew Richner (R) (Incumbent)
Crystal Van Sickle
Marge Katchmark Sallows
James Lewis Hudler (L)
John Jascob (L)
Kevin Graves (G)
Candidates for Michigan State University Board of Trustees (choose 2)
Brianna Scott (D)
Kelly Charron Tebay (D)
Dave Dutch (R)
Mike Miller (R)
John Paul Sanger
Bruce Campbell (L)
Tim Orzechowski (L)
Aaron Mariasy (G)
Candidates for Michigan State Board of Education (choose 2)
Tiffany Tilley (D)
Judith Pritchett (D)
Tami Carlone (R)
Richard Zeile (R) (Incumbent)
Mary Anne Hering
Scott Boman (L)
John Tatar (L)
Sherry A. Wells (G)
Candidates for Lieutenant Governor of Michigan
Garlin Gilchrist II (D)
Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R)
Angelique Chaiser Thomas (L)
Charin Davenport (G)
Michigan State Senate District 14
Candidates for Michigan State Senate District 14
Renee Watson (D)
Ruth Johnson (R)
Jessicia Smith (G)
Michigan House of Representatives District 50
Candidates for Michigan House of Representatives District 50
Tim Sneller (D) (Incumbent)
Trace Fisher (R)
Michigan Second District Court of Appeals
Candidates for Michigan Second District Court of Appeals District 2 (choose 3)
Elizabeth L. Gleicher (Incumbent)
Kathleen Jansen (Incumbent)
Deborah Servitto (Incumbent)
Candidates for Michigan Second District Court of Appeals District 2
Partial term ending 1/1/2021 - 1 position
Jonathan Tukel (Incumbent)
Michigan Supreme Court
Candidates for Michigan Supreme Court (choose 2)
Kurtis Wilder (Incumbent)
Elizabeth Clement (Incumbent)
Kerry Lee Morgan
BALLOT ISSUE: Proposal 1 (Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol)
WHAT IT WOULD DO: The measure would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. Personal possession would be limited to 2.5 ounces, with households allowed up to 10 ounces and 12 plants. Consumers would pay a 10 percent tax that would fund schools, roads, and local governments.
WHO'S BEHIND IT: Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol. Organized by the D.C. nonprofit The Marijuana Policy Project, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol is comprised of a variety of advocate groups and stakeholders. The Marijuana Policy Project works to change state-level marijuana laws and increase public support for “non-punitive, non-coercive marijuana policies.” Among the Coalition members are the Marijuana Policy Project, MI Legalize, Michigan NORML, the ACLU of Michigan and the Drug Policy Alliance.
In addition to collecting group members, the MPP has spearheaded funding for the Michigan ballot issue. According to July campaign finance disclosures, MPP and its affiliate, the Marijuana Policy Project Foundation, contributed $633,012, or 36 percent of CRMLA funding at that time. This includes direct contributions, staff time, and signature collection. Another large D.C. donor is New Approach PAC, which advocates across the country for marijuana reform and contributed $90,000.
Big in-state donors include: MI Legalize, a pro-legalization group, gave $170,000; $250,000 was donated by Smokers Outlet, a Michigan chain that owns Wild Bill’s Tobacco and Mr. Vapor, and KX3 Superwall, LLC, which donated $50,000 and is registered to Thomas Lavinge, a cannabis attorney and medical marijuana investor.
Several major donors contributed in-kind donations for signature collection valued at thousands of dollars. At $95,000, the largest individual donation came from Kevin McCaffery, an Ann Arbor resident and president of RBK Enterprises. $50,000 worth of in-kind signature collection came from: Sam Usman, Jr., a Michigan State grad who opened a medical marijuana dispensary in 2010; Susan Ruiz, a libertarian postdoctoral researcher at Boston University who has also donated generously to a similar fund in Massachusetts; and DKT Liberty, a D.C. nonprofit that says it defends individual liberty against government encroachment.
WHO'S AGAINST IT: Healthy and Productive Michigan, (HPM), was founded by Grand Rapids resident Scott Greenlee, a political consultant and formerly Vice Chairman of Coalitions for the Michigan Republican Party. Greenlee is joined by former Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, (R-Monroe), who works as an organization spokesperson. Matthew Yascolt, who worked in substance abuse prevention at Beaumont Hospital, is the campaign’s Grassroots Director. HPM did not respond to Bridge Magazine’s interview request to discuss the group’s membership and leadership.
MLive reported the group has been joined at several events by Will Jones, a communications and outreach associate at Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). SAM is a Virginia-based nonprofit whose mission that advocates for policies that reduce marijuana consumption. Per July campaign finance disclosures, SAM has provided the HPM with $275,916, which amounts to 99 percent of the funding raised to fight Prop 1.
The remaining $2,645 come from individual Michigan residents.
BENEFITS: Increased tax revenue: Legalization would create a new revenue stream for schools, transportation, and local governments. States such as Washington and Colorado have harvested millions of dollars in additional taxes. Experts estimate Michigan could make 100 million to 200 million dollars a year from marijuana taxation.
Falling arrest rates: States with recreational cannabis have seen arrest rates fall for marijuana-related offenses, keeping people out of the penal system and in the workforce. (It is worth noting that, while arrest rates fall overall, racial disparities in arrest rates do not vanish, with minorities continuing to be arrested at higher rates than whites.)
New jobs and businesses: A new industry expands the private sector, opening the door to more businesses and jobs.
Health benefits: Research indicates there could be some positive impacts, such as alleviating pain, nausea, seizures, and potentially helping users fight insomnia.
CONCERNS: Health risks: Despite marijuana’s medicinal uses, it can be injurious to users’ health. Those prone to mental illness and adolescents whose brains are still developing seem to run the highest risk of ill effects, and “substantial” use can harm anybody’s lungs.
Public safety: There are concerns about road and worker safety. There is no test to assess whether or not a person is currently under the influence of marijuana, making it difficult to police the roads for drivers under the influence or identify impaired workers on the job. At the moment, research is muddled as to whether there is any effect at all on transit safety, positive or negative.
Hiring difficulties: Michigan employers are worried about finding workers that can pass a drug test. There are already areas of the state struggling with this issue, and some companies fear that easy access to weed will only exacerbate the problem.
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER’S TAKE: "Michigan has a chance to get marijuana legalization right. I will be a yes vote on legalizing recreational marijuana when it appears on the ballot this November. As governor, I’m going to make sure we regulate marijuana so it doesn’t get into the hands of our kids and tax it so the money goes to fixing our roads and our broken education system,” Whitmer said to Bridge Magazine via email.
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR BILL SCHUETTE’S TAKE: Schuette said to Bridge Magazine in an interview, “I believe in democracy and so if the citizens of Michigan pass it I will implement it fully, completely, according to the statute and make it work if it’s passed… From my perspective, we don’t need to put more drugs in the hands of children...so I’m voting no on that.”
FUN FACT: Craft cannabis, anybody? Micro-dispensaries may be joining Michigan’s beloved microbreweries. The ballot proposal says “marijuana micro-businesses” could grow, process, and sell plants on one location, just like a microbrewery processes and sells their product in one spot.
BALLOT ISSUE: Proposal 2 (Voters Not Politicians)
WHAT IT WOULD DO: Take the power to draw legislative district lines away from whichever party is in control in Lansing (in recent election cycles that’s been Republicans) and create a commission of citizens responsible for drawing them after each decennial census. The commission would be made up of 13 people self-identified by political affiliation: four Republicans, four Democrats and four independents, who will devise representative maps with the help of consultants and significant public input.
WHO'S BEHIND IT: Voters Not Politicians. Founded with a Facebook post in 2016, the group rallied thousands of volunteers to gather more than 400,000 signatures to place it on the November ballot. It’s been endorsed by a variety of advocacy organizations, local leaders and some on the national scene — including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. State Democratic political leaders are generally in support of it.
WHO'S AGAINST IT: Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, a group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, opposed the proposal through a lengthy court battle. A conservative advocacy group, The Michigan Freedom Fund, has advertised against it, and the Michigan Oak Initiative sponsored flyers opposing it at the state Republican Party convention in August. State Republican political leaders are largely opposed to it.
WHO’S FUNDING IT: With around $1.6 million raised at the last campaign finance reporting deadline, its largest funders now include the Obama-backed National Democratic Redistricting Committee, Texas-based Action Now Initiative, East Lansing’s Beckwith Constitutional Liberties Fund and the Michigan United Auto Workers. More than half of its funding came from donors giving less than $16,000. VNP reported 16,212 individual contributions.
BENEFITS: Both documents and statistics indicate that Michigan Republicans have successfully gerrymandered districts to their advantage since 2000. The architects of Prop 2 say it is intended to end this practice (and stop Democrats from doing the same if they come to power.) Experts can’t say for certain whether it will have its intended effect, but other states with independent commissions have seen more competitive races after switching their system.
An analysis by the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan found there are two big benefits to adopting the proposal: It would increase transparency about how state and congressional lines are drawn and reduce partisan influence in the redistricting process.
There are several defenses against partisanship built into the proposal. To name a few, those with a lot to gain from political influence (such as candidates for office and lobbyists) are excluded from serving; legislative leaders will have a handful of vetos to dole out when commissioners are chosen, and final maps have to be approved by a majority with at least two commissioners from each political bucket. This is a departure from the current process, run by legislators aligned with a political party.
The proposal also guarantees a significantly more transparent map-making process. The current system allows for maps to be drawn in private and passed fairly quickly with little public input. “Because much of the discussion of redistricting happens behind closed doors, it is difficult to know who is influencing the process,” the Citizens Research Council report said.
Prop 2 would reverse that: All commission meetings, drafts, data and conversations would be public record. Several public hearings would be required before and after maps are drawn and before commissioners vote. The commission’s finances would be subject to a state audit annually.
CONCERNS: The Citizens Research Council report identified three major downsides to the proposal: Voters could not remove commissioners from their position and the revamped redistricting process would likely be both slower and more expensive than the current system.
Commissioners would not be elected by the public. The only way an eligible commissioner could be removed from office is by a vote of 10 of their 12 peers (so, all but two of their fellow commissioners). “As a result, there is a question of what constitutes accountability for commissioners,” the report concluded.
Using an independent commission to draw maps would also probably cost more. The state appropriated $878,000 for redistricting in 2011, not including legal costs to defend the maps. In comparison, Prop 2 would result in an estimated $4.6 million appropriation annually.
The Citizens Research Council’s analysis of Arizona’s and California’s commissions costs indicate it might take more than that depending on how frequently the maps are challenged in court. The state would be required to reimburse the commission for any funds used beyond what was appropriated.
Another big concern of opponents to Prop 2 is the ambiguity of political self-identification. Those applying to become commissioners have to swear to their political affiliation under threat of perjury, but even independent voters tend to lean one way or another. Several safeguards in the proposal are intended to protect against heavily partisan maps, such as requiring a majority vote that includes at least two Democrats, two Republicans and two independents to approve a map. However, there is no way to guarantee the commission remains free completely free of partisan politics.
DEM. GOVERNOR CANDIDATE GRETCHEN WHITMER’S TAKE: “I’m a yes vote. I support the Voters Not Politicians ballot proposal to create an independent citizens redistricting commission. Michiganders deserve to choose who their elected officials are, not the other way around. In 2005, I co-sponsored legislation to create an independent redistricting commission. Michigan has some of the worst gerrymandered elections maps in the nation, and I knew it back then, and I still believe now that we need an independent redistricting commission to oversee the process – so every vote counts and we have a government that represents the people of our state,” Whitmer told Bridge via email.
GOP GOVERNOR CANDIDATE BILL SCHUETTE’S TAKE: Schuette told Bridge in a recent interview he will be voting no. “We have standards in place that Republicans and Democrats and courts have ruled on in the past, I think that’s a far better approach.”
FUN FACT: Four other states — Colorado, Ohio, Missouri and Utah — will also consider initiatives this fall that would change their redistricting system.
BALLOT ISSUE: Proposal 3 (Promote the Vote)
WHAT IT WOULD DO: Prop 3 enshrines a variety of voting rights in the state constitution. Some are measures Michigan already has in some form: statewide election audits and the right of the U.S. military and overseas voters to receive absentee ballots. The proposal would make those rights harder to change by including them in the constitution. Other parts of Prop 3 would guarantee: the right to vote by straight party ticket, automatic voter registration, same day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. Yet another is already in the constitution: the right to vote by secret ballot.
WHO'S BEHIND IT: Promote the Vote. The majority of the committee’s funding comes from the American Civil Liberties Union and its Michigan branch. Other top funders include the United Auto Workers and the California-based Campaign for Democracy. It’s been endorsed by the Michigan League of Women Voters, the Michigan State NAACP, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Michigan AFL-CIO and others. Democratic leaders generally support it, including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson said she supports Prop 3 because its reforms make “it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”
WHO'S AGAINST IT: One opposition group, Protect My Vote, was created on Aug. 23. It lists as treasurer Mary Doster, wife of Okemos election law attorney Eric Doster and campaign treasurer for GOP-backed Supreme Court justices. However, its funding isn’t known yet — the group has not yet had to file campaign finance reports with the state.
Republican Secretary of State candidate Mary Treder Lang has said she opposes the proposal because same-day voter registration would be an undue burden on clerks on election day. Current Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said she doesn’t take a position on ballot proposals but that she also opposes same-day registration.
BENEFITS: Other states that implemented similar voting reforms have said it has made it easier for citizens to vote and improved voter turnout, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan.
Automatic voter registration would save would-be voters the time and effort it takes to register to vote before heading to the polls, lowering the barrier to voter participation. Studies suggest automatic voter registration in other states led to a boost in voter turnout and could benefit both political parties. It also saves states money on registration costs like data entry, printing and mailing and reduces error in voter rolls.
Allowing voters to register on the same day would make voting more convenient and also has been shown to increase voter turnout.
Supporters of no-reason absentee voting say it would make it easier for people to cast a ballot without waiting in line or rearranging their schedule.
Straight-ticket voting (wherein voters can fill in one bubble to vote for all Republicans or Democrats on the ticket) has a complicated legal history in Michigan. As of now, Michiganders will not be able to vote straight-ticket in 2018, but would be protected by the constitution in future elections if Prop 3 passes. The CRC report says it increases voter participation in the partisan portion of the ballot and reduces the impact of “roll-off,” in which voters stop voting toward the bottom of the ticket.
CONCERNS: Opponents of automatic voter registration say the registration process may not effectively filter out non-citizens with Michigan ID cards, which could lead to voter fraud.
Similarly, a spokesman for Sec. of State Johnson told Bridge she is concerned that same-day voter registration wouldn’t leave clerks enough time to verify residency, and that it’s not clear what proof of residency would be required under the proposal. However, she does not have an official stance on Prop 3.
Opponents of no-reason absentee voting also cite concerns it would lead to voter fraud. According to elections experts, more likely problems are mistakes filling out the ballot — absentee votes more often have errors and are less likely to be counted than those cast in person.
Straight-ticket voting is known to benefit Democratic candidates (whose supporters tend to use it more) than Republican candidates, according to the CRC report. The report also notes straight-ticket voting leads to participation decreasing in the nonpartisan portion of the ballot (which would include offices such as local school board and mayor in some cities) and a higher rate of voter errors.
DEM. GOVERNOR CANDIDATE GRETCHEN WHITMER’S TAKE: “I will be a yes vote on proposal 3, because it’s too hard to register and to vote in Michigan and, as a result, fewer people do it. Everyone who is approved for a driver’s license or state ID should be automatically registered to vote, and any registered voter should be able to vote absentee or by mail. As a legislator, I fought to ensure valid ballots from our service members overseas were counted, to prevent voters from being turned away at the polls, and to allow same-day voter registration,” Whitmer told Bridge via email.
REP. GOVERNOR CANDIDATE BILL SCHUETTE’S TAKE: Schuette told Bridge in a recent interview he will be voting no. “The (proposal) which includes the issue of straight party voting, I think Michigan should join 40 other states and let people (fill out the entire ballot) — people are smart enough, they can make decisions. I give people a lot of smarts and brains for voting.”
FUN FACT: If Prop 3 passes, Michigan would be the only state in the U.S. to protect same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration in its state constitution (as opposed to in statute).