Opinion: Pass ballot initiatives to protect abortion rights, voting
Detroit Free Press Editorial Board

In a representative democracy, voters rely on their elected leaders to adopt laws and policies that reflect the public’s sentiments about the great issues of the day. Lawmakers who ignore or defy the people’s policy preferences risk losing their jobs when the next election cycle rolls around.

But Michigan voters have another recourse when legislators in Lansing turn a deaf ear to public opinion: the ballot initiative.

When state legislators ignore voters’ wishes, Michigan’s constitution provides a remedy.  In this year’s election, giving lawmakers a wake-up call is as easy as 1-2-3.

Placing a proposed law or constitutional amendment before voters is expensive and time-consuming. But in a state where partisan gerrymandering has insulated incumbents in both parties from electoral competition, the ballot initiative has become an increasingly popular way to get Lansing’s attention

Four years ago, voters overcame determined Republican resistance to adopt constitutional amendments that legalized recreational marijuana, put legislative redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens commission, and made absentee voting easier.

This November, Michiganders have the opportunity to approve three more significant amendments — including one that would largely forbid state legislators from intruding on the reproductive choices of Michigan women.

None of these ballot initiatives would be necessary if Republican legislative leaders were more responsive to what Michiganders repeatedly implored the Legislature to do:

∎ Make elected officials’ disclose their financial interest in the legislation and policies they support

∎ Make it easier for voters to vote and for election clerks to count votes

∎ Stop trying to criminalize abortion

But state legislators have done nothing to address these concerns; to the contrary, the Republican legislative majority has spent much of the last four years trying to confound election reforms voters adopted in 2018. So, for reasons we elaborate on below, we recommend that Michigan voters adopt each of the state constitutional amendments on this year’s election ballot by voting YES on Proposal 1, Proposal 2 and Proposal 3.

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