While agreeing that recall petitions against seven of eight House lawmakers shouldn’t move forward, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Tuesday differed on the reasons, depriving them of the majority needed to pass to the next stage.
Among the seven legislators no longer facing recall is state Rep. Jennifer Conlin (D-Ann Arbor Twp.) whose 48th House District includes Genoa and Hamburg townships, the Village of Pinckney and the southeast corner of Putnam Twp. in Livingston County.
According to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, Linda Ensley of Brighton submitted the petition against Conlin, simply citing her yes vote on HB 4474 which expanded the definition of hate crimes to include violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, age and disability.
Canvassers had a number of concerns, including that the petitions lacked clarity because there was an insufficient description of the reasons for the recalls; the legibility was unclear with unexplained differences in handwriting and they lacked a disclaimer indicating which organizations were behind them.
The only recall petition that was approved was against state Rep. Cam Cavitt (R-Cheboygan) which canvassers said provided enough detail on the reason for his recall, which was a procedural vote he took at the beginning of the year to elect Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) as House speaker.
Gary Wnuk, who filed the recall against Cavitt, now has a 180-day window to collect 11,900 valid signatures over 60 consecutive days. If he does that and they’re ultimately verified by the Bureau of Elections, Rep. Cavitt would then face a recall election.
Other recall petitions that were rejected Tuesday were against Democratic state Reps. Noah Arbit of West Bloomfield, Betsy Coffia of Traverse City, Sharon MacDonell of Troy, Jaime Churches of Wyandotte and Reggie Miller of Van Buren Township and House Republican state Rep. Donni Steele of Orion.
Each of the rejected petitions only listed a single bill number as the reason for the recall, without any explanation of what the bill’s were about, although they were either about expanding hate crime definitions, creating red flag gun laws or requiring the safe storage of guns.
Mark Brewer, an attorney for the House Democrats targeted for recall, called the petitions frivolous.
“These bills were very popular with the constituents; they’re very popular statewide,” he said. “These representatives did the right thing and, frankly, this is no more than just harassment of them for doing their jobs.”
Canvassers Tony Daunt, a Republican, and Jeannette Bradshaw, a Democrat, voted to reject the petitions because of their conflicting motivations. Daunt said the absence of a disclaimer was his rationale, while Bradshaw cited the lack of legible handwriting on some of the petitions. Mary Ellen Gurewitz, a Democrat who chairs the four-member board, and Canvasser Richard Houskamp, a Republican, voted to reject the petitions based on their lack of clarity.