LANSING — State election officials say a ballot campaign to restrict payday loans failed to garner enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
Michiganders for Fair Lending submitted approximately 392,000 signatures for the bill launched on June 1. But the Elections Office, in a report issued late last week to the Board of State Solicitors, estimates the ballot committee’s petitions contain about 275,000 legitimate signatures — well below the roughly 340,000 needed.
“As widely reported in the media, this has been a difficult year for all petition campaigns in Michigan. Despite this disappointment, the Fair Lending Coalition remains motivated and committed to payday loan reform,” said spokesman Josh Hovey said in a statement.
After removing the sheets that did not pass an initial “facial examination”, the office extracted a sample of 522 randomly selected signatures. Only 375 were valid after officials explained issues such as the signers not being registered voters and a challenge filed by the opposition group Safe Lending Michigan.
Canvassers are expected to accept the board’s recommendation and deny certification as early as next week.
The measure would have capped payday loans, known as deferred presentation service transactions, at an annual interest rate of 36%. They are usually equal to 370%, depending on the ballot.
Loans are short-term, high-cost loans, typically $500 or less, that are usually due on the borrower’s next payday.
“Going forward, we will urge our stakeholders to hold local candidates accountable by urging them to support payday loan reform as part of their campaign platforms,” Hovey said. “We will also work as a coalition to advance legislative reform to ensure predatory lenders stop taking advantage of hard-working Michiganders.”
Legislative efforts to curb payday loans have stalled before.
Michiganders for Fair Lending had raised $4.1 million and spent $2.1 million as of April 20, mostly to pay for collecting signatures. Two groups funded the campaign: the American Civil Liberties Union ($2.6 million) and the Sixteen Thirty Fund ($1.6 million), an organization supported by anonymous left-leaning donors.
“We said from the day they filed that their signatures were wrong and they would fail in their attempt to limit safe and regulated lending options for Michigan consumers,” said Patrick Meyers of Safe Lending. Michigan.
Michigan voters are likely to consider three statewide proposals in November, all constitutional changes.
One, which was put on the ballot by lawmakers, would revise some of the toughest statutory limits in the country and require state elected officials to provide information about their finances to avoid disputes. interests. The state is beginning to consider petitions that were submitted last week by committees seeking to protect abortion rights and expand voting rights.