Elections office says petition for payday loan likely to be short of qualifying for ballot

Gregory F. Maxwell

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A payday loan rate cap petition campaign is challenging the state’s decision to reject some of the campaign’s signatures.

It looks like a ballot question to cap service charges on payday loans that wasn’t eligible to go to Michigan voters in November, despite garnering about 50,000 more signatures than the campaign. didn’t think it necessary.

A state Office of Elections staff report estimates the Michiganders for Fair Lending group ran out of 72,513 signatures.

Campaign spokesman Josh Hovey said the group was unlikely to be able to successfully challenge the findings at a meeting of the Board of State Solicitors scheduled for Thursday.

“We are obviously extremely disappointed by this. You know, we worked hard during this year. But we continue to be dedicated to the fight for payday loan reform,” Hovey said.

Fair Lending had collected more than 390,000 signatures, well above the necessary threshold of 340,047. But the Elections Office invalidated a significant portion of them, based on its analysis of a random sample of signatures.

The campaign previously sued to include signatures that the state rejected in its review.

The office report disputes that it would have made a big difference.

“Even if the Board were to ultimately conclude that each of the 1,394 disputed signatures was indeed valid, the total universe of signatures would increase from 382,633 to 384,025. This increase would not change the percentage of valid signatures in the sample to a level close to the level necessary to find that the subject of the Fair Lending petition has enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot,” the report states.

Hovey said the group would now focus on getting the measures passed in the Legislative Assembly.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with lawmakers. The payday loan industry is a powerful industry in this state and brings a lot of money to members of the Legislative Assembly, but we have been working on it through our coalition members for several years,” Hovey said.

He said it was too early to say whether the group would try again with another ballot initiative in 2024 if lawmakers failed to act.

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