The certification of a citizen initiative ballot issue for the November ballot that sought to include abortion rights in the state constitution of Michigan was rejected on Wednesday.

On a party-line vote of 2-2 on Wednesday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers couldn’t agree on whether to certify the Reproductive Freedom for All proposal for the November ballot, casting doubt on the initiative’s future.
For the time being, the initiative won’t be on the ballot, but the campaign for it on Thursday requested the Michigan Supreme Court to get involved, claiming that the Board’s failure to deem the petition acceptable for inclusion on the ballot violates both state election law and the state constitution.

Reproductive Freedom for All sued the state, requesting that the state Supreme Court direct the Board of State Canvassers to certify the petition as valid and eligible to appear on the general election ballot and the secretary of state to include the ballot statement when certifying the general election ballot to county clerks.
Two days before the deadline for completing the ballot, on September 7, the group also requested an accelerated ruling.
Last Monday, the board received a recommendation from the Michigan Bureau of Elections to approve the petition’s certification.

More than 750,000 signatures were sent to the Secretary of State’s office by Reproductive Freedom for All in July. The Bureau of Elections determined the petition received 596,379 legitimate signatures in its staff assessment, which is nearly 146,000 more than the minimal number needed.

However, opponents disputed the proposed revision due to the petition’s lack of word spacing. Those opposed claimed during the open discussion on Wednesday morning that the amendment should not be put on the ballot because it is ambiguous, poorly drafted, and full of errors.

The Michigan election statute is “silent on the amount of space that must be between letters and words in a petition,” the Bureau stated in its staff report. “As to the merits of these legal issues as they pertain to the substance of the petition,” it did not make any recommendations.
The two Democrats on the Board of State Canvassers voted in favour of certifying the petition, while the two Republicans on the board, including the chair, abstained in agreement with opponents’ criticisms of the format of the amendment.
Despite the tie vote, the board referred to the proposal as Proposal 22-3 and authorised its wording as it would appear on the ballot if it were to be certified.

In its filing on Thursday, RFFA said that the “law is clear” regarding the responsibility of the Board of State Canvassers and that the board had disregarded it. The two Republican members “exceeded their power when they contemplated additional requirements that have no basis in law,” according to the group, who said that Michigan election law “defines what the form requirements are.”

“There is no question that the RFFA provided enough signatures. It appears that there is no disagreement regarding the RFFA petition’s compliance with the petition form criteria as the only opposing party to the petition contests the constitutional amendment’s text (as the Board confirmed at its March 23, 2022 meeting). Therefore, the plaintiffs clearly have a legal right to request that the Board qualify their petition for the ballot and that the Secretary certify the ballot question for presentation to the electorate “According to RFFA’s complaint.
According to the 100-word summary, the constitutional amendment would create a “person right to reproductive freedom, including right to make and carry out all decisions about pregnancy.”

The state constitution would be changed if it were approved, allowing the state to “prohibit abortion after foetal viability unless needed to protect a patient’s life or physical or mental health” and “prohibit prosecution of an individual, or a person helping a pregnant individual, for exercising rights established by this amendment; and invalidate all state laws that conflict with this amendment.”
Following the May publication of a draught judgement by the US Supreme Court that might overturn Roe v. Wade, the ballot proposal gained more urgency. In the end, Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court in June, thus removing all states’ constitutional right to abortion.

State courts have struck down Michigan’s pre-Roe prohibition, a 1931 abortion restriction that was declared unconstitutional by the Roe v. Wade ruling but was still on the books in the state.
Additionally, the state Supreme Court is currently considering pleas requesting it to unequivocally rule that the pre-Roe ban violates the state constitution.