Proposed bill could allow Michigan candidates to appear on ballot by paying fee

A bill introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives would allow candidates seeking office in the state to secure a spot on the ballot by paying a fee.

Introduced by Republican State Representative Matt Maddock, he named House Bill 5791 the Ballot Access Act.

"In the Michigan Legislature, we have the option to get signatures or pay $100 to get on the ballot," Maddock wrote on X on June 5. "My bill simply provides congressional candidates the same option we have. This solves a huge problem for Republicans and Democrats and saves tax dollars."

Often, candidates get bounced off the ballot because they have issues with the signatures on their petition.

Adam Hollier is one of those candidates.

Hollier was running to unseat Shri Thanedar in the race for Michigan's 13th Congressional District. In May, his campaign filed 1,553 signatures to the clerk's office. But in a review of the submitted signatures, the clerk determined only 863 signatures were valid

"This happens. I didn’t check it; I should have," Hollier previously told FOX 2. "I trusted somebody to manage this process. They did not do that, and they let me down. I should have checked everything; I didn’t."

The Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at Oakland University, Dave Dulio, said "it’s clear – shortcuts are taken."

Dulio said the petition process was set up the way it was for a reason.

"You have to show voters, you have to show your potential constituents that you are competent in fundamental elements of your job as a representative, and I don’t see why we wouldn’t put something like this in that list of things that candidates need to show voters their competency," he said.

However, problems with petitions are becoming an easy way to eliminate an opponent.

"I would imagine that it’s going to become more and more prevalent," Dulio said.

On the 4th of July, it's easy to find a candidate running for re-election walking in a parade. 

FOX 2 ran into Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D), who represents the 11th Congressional District, and asked her what she thinks about paying a fee to get on the ballot.

"I don’t think we necessarily need to do that," Stevens said. "I think we've got a Democratic process. I think we have a Secretary of State who is working really hard to make sure that democracy is being exercised."

Bill 5791 was just introduced, and still has a long way to go before it could become law.