Activists seeking to revoke Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s ability to govern by emergency decree have reached and exceeded their goal of collecting 500,000 signatures on their petition for initiated legislation and will turn the petitions in to the Bureau of Elections soon.

“We’ve succeeded in collecting more than a half-million signatures from Michigan voters in fewer than 80 days, a historic accomplishment at a pivotal point in Michigan’s history,” said Unlock Michigan co-Chair Ron Armstrong. “This initiative isn’t about any one rule or any one personality. This proposed law simply takes away the ability of a single politician to rule like a monarch for as long as they like. That’s a power no politician of any party should ever have,” he said.

“When the final tally is completed, we will have collected signatures from all 83 of Michigan’s counties, from citizens coming from all walks of life,” said co-Chair Meshawn Maddock. “Republicans and Democrats alike oppose the idea of an endless lockdown, and they oppose any elected official seizing all the power for themselves. That’s simply not the Michigan way,” she said.

There was some controversy with the petition drive that surfaced in the Detroit Free Press this week after a video was secretly recorded showing a trainer for In the Field, Inc.  The trainer was telling trainees how to share inaccurate information and suggested other unethical practices.   The paper reported that Unlock Michigan spokesman Fred Wszolek, said In the Field, which hired that trainer, will not get paid for the signatures it collects, based on the contents of the video. He said In the Field is a subcontractor to the main firm Unlock Michigan has hired, National Petition Management.   After he was told about the contents of the training session, Wszolek said he is suspicious that it "could be a setup." He said the trainer, Erik Tisinger, normally works on progressive campaigns, not conservative ones, such as Unlock Michigan. But in any case, he told the Free Press that In the Field will not get paid for the signatures it collects.

Armstrong tells WBCK, "This is nothing more than a complete and utter distraction.  We've had 60,000 individual volunteers doing this work, and we're not going to allow anything to derail the largest single citizen-led petition initiative in state history."   He says there was no effort to confuse or mislead people.  "Our petition language is simple, direct, and one sentence long.  Our signs are very clear."  He says they even have a video on the Unlock Michigan website that explains how to properly gather the signatures.

Armstrong says the signatures associated with Erik Tisinger will be removed, but that they would amount to very few.  "We'll have as many as 515,000 signatures submitted, and we only need 340,000."

Once submitted to the Bureau of Elections, petitions will be reviewed by staff to ensure sufficient signatures have been collected. Director Jonathan Brater detailed the certification process in a sworn affidavit to a federal court, indicating that their process would take “60 days.”

“We have submitted vastly more signatures than required to qualify our initiative, and the 60-day process of the Bureau of Elections will allow ample time for the Legislature to enact this law this year,” said co-Chair Garret Soldano. “We the People did our job. The Bureau of Elections needs to do its job. And then the House and Senate can do their jobs, ending the disastrous mistake of the 1945 emergency law that has been so misused by this Governor,” he said.

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