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Activists try to create group support for ballot drives

Flickr user Paul Sableman

A small crowd that held a May Day rally in front of the state Capitol has a big ambition – to organize ballot campaigns that will support each other. The groups include efforts to legalize marijuana in Michigan, shut down an oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, and to change the redistricting process.

Jeff Hank is with MI Legalize, the campaign to legalize marijuana. He says the “May Day” movement’s goal is to bring back grassroots democracy. 

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to have paid petition circulators,” he said. “If people of the state of Michigan worked hard on petitions together, the non-partisan petitions that we need, we could get these things done without the money. And if we want to do that, we’re going to have to start organizing, there has to be a rallying point. That’s what May Day’s going to be.”

Hank says he’d like to see an annual May Day rally at the state Capitol to serve as a launch for grassroots petition drive.

The rally was also a chance for activists like Hugh McNichol the 4th to audition their ideas before the crowd.

“Rank-choice voting,” he said. “It allows you to rank as many or as few candidates as you’d like. It prevents the spoiler candidate, and it eliminates the idea of a wasted vote.”

Rank-choice voting is also referred to as instant-runoff voting.

Hank says all the petition drives should be ready to start gathering signatures in the next couple of weeks. Each campaign needs to gather more than 250 thousand names of registered voters within a six-month window to qualify for the November 2018 ballot.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.