Michigan board declines to certify LGBTQ rights ballot drive

The Michigan elections board on Monday declined to certify an LGBTQ-rights ballot drive because it did not submit enough voter signatures.

The 4-0 vote from two Democrats and two Republicans came after the elections bureau did a second review and estimated Fair and Equal Michigan turned in roughly 263,000 valid signatures, about 76,000 short. The group, whose donors include prominent businesses, had spent $2.9 million to gather more than 468,000 signatures.

It vowed to appeal the determination in court.

The proposal would revise the state’s 1976 civil rights law to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Organizers want to place the measure before the Republican-led Legislature, where similar legislation has long stalled. If lawmakers did not act, it would go to a statewide vote in November 2022.

Election staffers ruled many signatures ineligible because the signers were not registered voters or there were address, date or other errors.

"Fair and Equal Michigan provided numerous examples to the board detailing how a significant number of our signatures were improperly thrown out," spokesman Josh Hovey said. "The Board of Canvassers never addressed the issues we raised with the way the Bureau of Elections staff handled our petitions, and we are confident that if all our valid signatures were counted then we would easily meet the threshold to move forward."