Last November, Ohio voters decided three statewide ballot questions, including a new state law they repealed that would have drastically limited public employees' collective-bargaining rights. There were few other major races to consider that election day.
This November, Michigan voters could face as many as eight proposals and constitutional amendments on their ballot, together with a full array of national, state, and local races. How many will get on the ballot won't be clear until petition signatures are reviewed and court challenges are resolved.
Most of the issues are complex. Two could add as many as 10 casinos in Michigan. One would enshrine collective-bargaining rights for private and public employees in the state constitution. A mischievous proposal would require a statewide vote anytime a major international bridge is built across a river.
If every voter paused in the booth to give all these issues serious consideration -- along with dozens of candidates for offices from president to probate judge -- it would be impossible to conduct the election in a single day. This is largely the fault of Michigan's constitution, which allows any special interest with enough money to pay for signatures to slap a proposal on the statewide ballot.
If this situation continues, it will make a mockery of representative government, and turn Michigan into an ungovernable mass of contradictions. The best remedy might be to make it much harder to amend the state constitution or place proposed laws before voters.
New state restrictions on paying canvassers to collect signatures would also be worthwhile. Paid canvassers are more likely than volunteers to pressure voters to sign petitions for causes they don't completely understand.
Something must be done soon. Otherwise, Michigan risks making its legislature irrelevant to lawmaking, and becoming a national joke.