Michigan abortion, voting rights and term limits proposals are ahead in returns

Michigan voters on Tuesday appear to have supported three statewide proposals that would make changes to term limits, enshrine abortion rights and add voting rights measures in the state Constitution. 

The Associated Press has not made calls as of 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, but NBC News said that Proposal 3, the abortion rights measure, will pass.

With 45% of votes counted in unofficial returns, Proposal 1, the legislative term limits and financial disclosure measure, had secured 61% of the yes vote. 

Proposal 2, the voter rights amendment, had secured 56% of the yes vote With 44% of the vote counted. 

With 50% of votes counted, Proposal 3, the reproductive freedom measure, secured 53% of the vote. 

Proposal 1, placed on the ballot by the Legislature in May, would modify term limits for Michigan’s Legislature to allow legislators to serve a combined 12 years in both the House and Senate. 

The current standard, which voters approved in 1992, limits legislators to three terms in the House, which totals six years, and two terms in the Senate, which totals eight years. In total, legislators can serve for 14 years. Michigan is one of 15 states that have term limits for state lawmakers, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Proposal 2 would amend Article II of the Michigan Constitution to expand voting rights. The Michigan GOP opposed the amendment.

The Promote the Vote coalition that placed the initiative on the ballot included nearly 30 partner organizations, including the NAACP Michigan State Conference, Michigan League for Conservation Voters and Michigan Farmers Union.

Although AP has not called the race, the coalition declared victory early Wednesday.

“I’d like to thank the millions of Michigan voters who said, ‘Yes’ to Proposal 2 which protects the fundamental right to vote while enhancing security and expanding the accessibility of Michigan’s future elections,” said Micheal Davis, executive director for Promote the Vote. “Michigan voters clearly support ensuring every voice is heard and every vote is counted in every election no matter what political party or candidate we support, where we live or what we look like.”

The Rev. Wendell Anthony, Detroit NAACP president, told the Advance on Tuesday that the measure was vitally important to his members, many of whom are African American. 

“It is a priority in terms of access to the ballot box and making it more accessible,” said Anthony on Tuesday. “That’s a real issue.”  

It came after a set of 39 bills sponsored by the GOP-led Michigan Senate were introduced in 2021. Anthony said at the time that the bills, if passed, would place “democracy on a ventilator.” 

Micheal Davis, Jr, Promote the Vote executive director, speaks at a Lansing press conference for the Promote the Vote 2022 ballot initiative, July 11, 2022 | Laina G. Stebbins

Proposal 3, The Reproductive Freedom for All constitutional amendment would change the state Constitution to create individual rights to reproductive freedom, including the right for an individual to make decisions about pregnancy and abortion; allow for the state to regulate abortion after fetal viability but not prevent it if it is medically necessary to the patient; prevent the prosecution of individuals carrying out their right; and disqualify state laws that conflict with the amendment. 

This constitutional amendment would repeal the 1931 law that’s on the books that makes abortion a felony in Michigan. The current law has been put on pause after a Michigan judge issued an injunction preventing its enforcement after the U.S. The Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade

Activists and candidates in both the Michigan Democratic Party and the Michigan Republican Party, used the measure as a rallying cry for the election, with the former in support and the latter opposed. 

Several social action organizations, Michigan Liberation, Michigan People’s Campaign, Mothering Justice Action Fund, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition Action, Detroit Action, We the People Action Fund, Public Wise, rallied on Tuesday at “Dance for Democracy” at Marble Bar in Detroit. 

They campaigned to support Proposal 2 and Proposal 3. During the campaign season, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats, continually called for support of the measure. 

Omari Young, a physician, was hopeful on Tuesday he awaited election results. 

“I’m encouraged by the huge amount of support we’ve seen for passing Proposal 3 to restore the protections of Roe in Michigan,” said Young, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Flint and member of the Committee to Protect Health Care. “Doctors, medical professionals, and volunteers across Michigan have worked hard to earn the support of voters for this proposal. We’re cautiously optimistic, knowing that most Michiganders trust women to make their own health care decisions with their doctors, and without political interference.”

Protestors march in support of abortion rights following a Women’s Wave rally in Lansing on Oct. 8, 2022. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Conversely, Right to Life of Michigan the Catholic Conference and the archdioceses of Michigan all spent heavily against the measure.

Two Republican members of the Board of State Canvassers originally voted against placing the measure on the ballot until the Michigan Supreme Court stepped in to ensure they certified the results. Kristina Karamo, GOP nominee for Secretary of State, attacked Proposal 3 continually throughout the campaign season. In addition, the Michigan Catholic Conference and Archdiocese of Detroit voiced opposition to Proposal 3.  

Mark Brewer, a former Michigan Democratic Party chair, believes that Proposal 3 attracted voters from the left and right to the ballot box. 

“Obviously. we will have to see what the data brings, but anecdotally Proposal 3 had an impact on both sides of the aisle. There was a vigorous campaign run against it, and a vigorous and strong campaign for it,” said Brewer. 

The Michigan Republican Party did not respond to the Advance request for comment. 

Jeff Timmer, a former Michigan GOP official, said that Proposal 3 clearly drove state voters to the polls. He told the Advance on Tuesday just prior to the poll closing that a “wide swath of Republicans like me will be voting yes on Proposal 3 like I did.” 

He suggested that the issue is about one’s freedom and liberty. 

“It is viewed as a fundamental American right,” said Timmer about the reproductive freedom issue. “It is at the core who we are as a country.” 

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