Petition circulators who fib could get charged with crime under House bills


When state Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit, went to vote in Detroit’s primary election in August, a man collecting signatures for a ballot proposal asked her whether she wanted to sign a petition that would make Michigan’s Legislature part-time.

When she said no, the signature gatherer changed his tune and said the petition was actually for a full-time Legislature.

It was that encounter that led her to be one of the sponsors of a package of bills that will penalize petition circulators for misrepresenting the ballot proposals or recall petitions they’re pushing and allow people who sign petitions to remove their names if they find out a circulator lied about a proposal. The charge against an organization running a petition driver or an individual gathering signatures would be a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $10,000.

“People are lying. Petition circulators are misrepresenting their cause and it’s damaging to our democracy,” said state Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield. “Election day is coming up and people are going to the polls where they’ll see candidates and people circulating petitions. And we have no laws governing what people can tell you about their issue.”

The bills – HB 5208-5214 – also would prohibit the practice of paying petition circulators by the signature and ban people convicted of election-related crimes to gather signatures.