A petition to recall Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was approved by the Board of State Canvassers Monday after more than 100 citizens attended the meeting in anger over the Flint water crisis.
The petition approved aims to recall Snyder for creating the State School Reform/Redesign Office. Another nine petitions more directly related to the Flint water crisis were rejected (full list below.)
The approved petition is valid for 180 days after approval at the Board of State Canvassers level. To move forward it must collect 789,133 signatures in a 60-day period within that 180 day window. Doing so would then put a question before voters statewide, most likely on the state's Aug. 2 election.
The board has considered around a dozen such attempts to recall Gov. Rick Snyder since November of 2015, but has rejected each attempt before today's meeting. On Monday the board rejected nine of ten petitions for reasons ranging from misspellings to the misstatement of a law's title.
Rev. David Alexander Bullock of Detroit submitted two of the petitions with misspellings. He argued the meaning was still discernible.
"Spelling errors do not imply ignorance. It's just a sleight of hand," Bullock said.
But board member Julie Matuzak said words do matter in the recall language being presented. She said without the board's scrutiny, the language could be challenged and ultimately thrown out in court after signatures had been collected.
"Words do matter, and spelling does matter," Matuzak said. "And when a person signs a recall petition they have a right to expect that their signature will count for something."
The rejections aggravated members of the audience, many of whom voiced objections to rejecting petitions over misspelling.
"You are playing with semantics and in the meantime my family and members of my family have been poisoned," said Dorothy Batchelder, a Holly resident with more than 30 family members living in Flint.
In total 10 petitions were considered Monday. Here are the results:
- A petition from Benjamin Lazarus to recall the governor for an executive order he signed creating the State School Reform/Redesign Office.
- A petition to recall the governor for appointing Darnell Earley as head of Detroit Public Schools was rejected by the board because Earley's name was spelled incorrectly.
- Two petitions to recall the governor for amendments to the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act was rejected by the board because the act's name was misstated.
- A petition to recall the governor for declaring a state of emergency in Genesee County and Flint was rejected due to a misspelling of "Genesee" as "Genesse."
- A petition to recall the governor over statements made in his State of the State address was rejected because it misspelled "families" as "famlies."
- A petition to recall the governor that quoted a portion of Snyder's State of the State speech was rejected by the board. An attorney for the governor said it was missing a word in the quote.
- A petition to recall the governor that quoted an email released by his office was rejected by the board.
- A petition to recall the governor over a statement in his State of the State address was rejected by the board. An attorney for the governor said the word "admitted" in the proposal was out of context from the governor's statement in regard to this issue. This petition deadlocked with the two Democratic members of the Board of State Canvassers voting to approve it and the board's two Republican members voting against it. In event of a tie, items before the board do not pass.
- A petition to recall the Governor over a statement included in his Declaration of Emergency was rejected by the board. It misspelled "Genesee" as "Genese."
Arthur Woodson of Flint likened the petition attempts to throwing spaghetti at a wall.
"As long as something got approved, the spaghetti stuck to the wall. Something stuck to the wall and out of ten one did get approved," Woodson said.
He said that even though the petition with approval does not mention Flint water, it could be presented as a way to recall him. He doesn't know yet if citizens will take that language or try to approve different language.
Quincy Murphy, who submitted two petitions to recall the governor based on actions surrounding the Flint water crisis, said he planned to amend the language and bring it back for approval.