LANSING — A petition drive that received 40,000 more signatures than necessary in order to allow citizens to vote on whether to keep Michigan's controversial emergency managers in November was shot down on Thursday as the state's Board of State Canvassers reached a 2-2 deadlock.
Despite more than 203,000 signatures in support of Public Act 4, Republicans cited a font size mistake in voting against the act, erasing months of hard work from opponents. About 200 opponents were present with many chanting “Shame!” and accused the board of being “fascists” in response.
A total of three votes were necessary among the four-person board, but the 2-2 vote along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans against means that the question won't appear on the ballot, unless a planned appeal is successful in time. The managers, operating in seven cities, would have been suspended immediately had the signatures been allowed.
Opponents of the managers including the NAACP of Detroit, the organizing Stand Up for Democracy Michigan group, the Arab American Civil Rights League and more are among those planning to challenge the decision in the Court of Appeals in order to bring the issue to a vote.
Many of those in attendance saw a conflict of interest between Republican board member Jeffrey Timmer, who works for the Sterling Corporation, a consulting firm that formed an opposition group challenging the emergency managers repeal drive as well.
“All we asked is that the Michigan people be allowed to decide,” said ACRL Executive Director Rashid Baydoun, who has attended several meetings related to the proposal including Thursday's.
“But the Michigan constitution was shot down on no merit whatsoever.”