The Michigan Board of State Canvassers today rejected a petition drive that would have put the state's emergency manager law on the November ballot. The board's staff had reported (pdf) that the petitioners had collected enough signatures, and recommended (pdf) that the board deny a challenge on the basis that the petition's type size might be too small.
That challenge came from a project living inside the same Republican consulting firm with a partner on the board. Also on the four member board was a Democrat whose labor union had worked to collect signatures. In the end, the board voted two-two, on party lines, meaning the petitions were toast. They had been signed by more than 200,000 Michigan voters.
Eclectablog, a Democrat activist and blogger, was in the room. He writes: "The vote was followed by chants of 'SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!' " And this: "After the vote, the room erupted. I apologize for the blurriness of this photo but it was pandemonium."
An attorney for the group trying to overturn the emergency manager law tells us he'll file an appeal as early as Monday. "We had hoped that they would put democracy ahead of party allegiance, but we did not find that in this case," Herb Sanders said.
If you look back through the minutes of the Board of State Canvassers, you'll notice almost no split votes on anything. Before today, the board looks not to have divided on any question since August 2010 (pdf). There's another one in April 2006 (pdf). And back in 2005, before the minutes were posted, the board split along party lines, blocking temporarily a referendum to end some forms of affirmative action.