Abortion rights group asks Supreme Court to approve petition after board's rejection

After the Michigan Board of Canvassers deadlocked on the vote about whether to put the legalization of abortion on the November ballot, supporters are asking the Michigan Supreme Court to approve the question.

The Reproductive Freedom for All (RFFA) ballot was rejected by the deadlocked board on Wednesday, prompting the immediate appeal to the state Supreme Court on Thursday.

The board rejected the vote because of typographical mistakes in the bill - because of a lack of spacing between words in the text of the petition that hundreds of thousands of Michiganders signed to get abortion rights on the ballot.

"The bottom line is the full text of the proposed amendment must be actual words," said attorney Eric Doster on behalf of the challengers. "Call these typos, errors, mistakes or whatever - this gibberish now before this board does not satisfy the full-text requirement under law."

The board had already approved the text for the petition - which did not have the spacing issues that appear on the actual petitions circulated to the public. Attorneys for RFFA argue there is no spacing requirement and the board's only duty was to certify that the required number of signatures has been met. Nearly 600,000 signatures were verified which was almost 150,000more than needed to certify.

"The board doesn't regulate word spacing. The legislature has not delegated any authority to this executive branch board nor does the board have any authority to adopt standards on its own," RFFA attorney Steven Liedel. "If you do this, you are setting a precedent that you can disapprove petitions for made-up reasons without any basis in the statute."

The board voted along party lines. Two Democrats voted to certify while two Democrats voted against it. That's a win for anti-abortion advocates like the group Citizens to Support MI Women and Children.

"The state board of canvassers did the right thing by refusing to insert into our state constitution the gibberish proposed by advocates of this extreme abortion amendment and the Michigan Supreme Court should support this move and protect our constitution from this vandalism as well," said Christen Pollo from the anti-abortion organization.

Attorneys for RFFA appealed to the court.

"This is a request that they direct the board of canvassers to certify because we met - we have the right amount of signatures," RFFA's Darci McConnell said. "Voters have spoken loud and clear - more than 730,000 people -that we want to restore what was lost under roe - and that we want to keep the reproductive rights that we've had for 50 years."

The court will have to move quickly. The deadline for getting the proposal on the ballot is September 9.