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MI Board of State Canvassers deadlock on approving abortion rights ballot initiative

Abortion opponents are seen outside as the Michigan Board of State Canvassers meet during a hearing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Lansing, Mich. The board is scheduled to decide whether a ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine abortion rights into Michigan's constitution should go to voters in November. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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AP
Abortion opponents are seen outside as the Michigan Board of State Canvassers meet during a hearing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Lansing, Mich. The board is scheduled to decide whether a ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine abortion rights into Michigan's constitution should go to voters in November. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The State Board of Canvassers deadlocked on a second ballot initiative today, this time splitting along party lines over whether to certify the Reproductive Freedom for All measure that would enshrine abortion access in the state Constitution.

Attorney Eric Doster says the abortion rights petition is riddled with typos and words pushed so close together that they're illegible.

“Call these typos, errors, mistakes or whatever, this gibberish now before this board does not satisfy the full test requirement under law and this board has never approved, never approved a petition with these types of typos and errors,” Doster said.

The board's two Republican members agreed with initiative challengers who claimed the lack of spaces between words on the petition violated petition requirements. Board Chair Tony Daunt (R-DeWitt) said nobody would sign a legal contract with typos like that.

The board's two Democrats said the only applicable requirement regarding petition language is the eight-point font requirement, and voted to approve the certification.

Tashawna Gill is a program manager with Supermajority, a women's rights group.

She said, "This challenge is a desperate tactic by a small group of extremist politicians in an attempt to hold onto power by controlling our bodies. No matter how the Board of Canvassers decides, the fact is that more than 700,000 Michiganders made it clear that we want abortion access protected by the state Constitution."

Supporters for both the abortion and voting rights petition drives say they will file challenges with the Michigan Supreme Court as they try to get the questions on the November ballot.

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