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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Repeal Public Act 4 Petition Protection Coalition Forms

Press Release

Repeal Public Act 4 Petition Protection Coalition Forms
Coalition Seeks Fair and Transparent Process in Counting Signatures and Urges Legislators to Not Stand in the Way of Democracy

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DETROIT – Michigan Forward, Detroit Branch NAACP, Stand Up for Democracy held a press conference today, Monday, March 5, 2012 at 1:30 P.M. at the Detroit Branch NAACP to announce a coalition formed to ensure there is a fair and accurate process in place to count the 226,637 signatures submitted to repeal “The Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act” know as Public Act 4.

Members of the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) Arab American Civil Rights League, Central United Methodist Church, Michigan AFSCME Council 25, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization,  the National Lawyers Guild and Sugar Law Center.  The signatures were submitted to the Secretary of State on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.  

The coalition announced that it has sent a formal communication to Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson requesting a meeting to address the following concerns:

Review of Michigan Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections procedures in processing petitions on the referendum of Public Act 4 of 2011; 
Identifying the Bureau of Elections petition processing and verification timeline;
Advance notice to the Stand Up for Democracy Committee on requests to review petitions by challengers and sponsors;  
The process and qualifications for monitors or challengers, if any;
Building and maintaining a list of petition sponsors and challengers throughout the verification process by the Bureau of Elections; 
Handling of referendum petitions by petition sponsors and challengers; and
Cost of a copy of the numbered petitions.
“Our petition protection coalition wants to make sure that the process for verifying the signatures to repeal Public Act 4 is clear, transparent and just,” says Brandon Jessup, Chairman, Stand Up for Democracy and Michigan Forward.  “We look forward to meeting with Secretary of State and the Bureau of Elections on this important next step to getting Public Act 4  on the ballot for 2012.”
The coalition’s ask expresses similar sentiments in a letter sent to the Secretary of State and the Bureau of Elections by Congressmen John Conyers, Hansen Clarke and Gary Peters for a lawful process in the verification of signatures.  
“We want to ensure that the canvassing of the 226, 637 petition signatures is conducted  in an open and fair manner, and the Michigan Election Law is respected,” say Atty. Melvin Butch Hollowell, General Counsel, Detroit Branch NAACP.  “The bottom line here is that we want every voter counted.”
The coalition also urged Governor Snyder and the State’s legislators to not create another version of Public Act 4 in an attempt to thwart the referendum process.  No elected official should consider any legislation designed to circumvent the constitution they are sworn to defend; the constitution that protects the right to petition, representative government and vote.  

A call to action was issued to all who believe in protecting Democracy to:

a. Sign an online petition beginning Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at urging legislators to not stand in the way of Democracy by creating another version of Public Act 4.

b. Let your voice be heard by contacting the Governor’s office, and members of Michigan’s House and Senate and tell them to keep their hands off Public Act 4.
“There is no more American Democratic people then the individual right to vote and to have citizen representation,” says Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP.  “When that right and principal is denied, abused or disrespected, all good Americans are called upon to Stand Up for Democracy.  We are all simply exercising the right of all people who demand full representation along with their mandated taxation.”
“The act of overturning election is serious business,” says Maureen Taylor, State Chairperson, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.  “An elected official who handpicks administrators after voiding duly constituted elections, allowing these appointees to bring staff who will all receive salaries greater that the voters support and who have allegiance only to the person who appointed them should raise fear an alarm in every American.  Financial Managers do not work, so this is a blatant disguise for something else.”
The Bureau of Elections has 60 days to verify signatures and submit a report to the Board of Canvassers.  The Bureau of Elections may request only one extension of an additional 15 days if needed to finish the verification process.  Only 161, 304 valid signatures are needed to repeal PA4 and place it on the November 6, 2012 ballot.  


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