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Detroit Council Election Reform Referendum, Proposal D, 2009

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A Detroit City Council Reform Referendum was on the November 3, 2009 ballot in Wayne County for voters in the City of Detroit.

The measure proposed creating districts for seven council members and having two at-large members. Currently, the nine council members can reside anywhere in the city and are not restricted by district lines.[1]

Election result

Detroit Council Election Reform Referendum
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 84178 72.08%
No 32606 27.92%
Total votes 116784 100.00%
Voter turnout 0%


Text of measure

According to the court of appeals', the ballot language should read: Shall the Detroit City Charter be amended to provide for a total of nine members of the City Council with one (1) council member with district residency elected from each of seven (7) districts and two (2) members elected at large?[3]

  • On September 22, 2009 the Michigan Court of Appeals ordered that Proposal D, be placed on the November 3, 2009 ballot. "The citizens of the city of Detroit are entitled to have the proposal placed on the ballot so that the people can express their choice on the proposal," said appeals judges.[3]
  • The ruling came only days after Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Virgil Smith ruled not to place the measure on the ballot. Previously, on August 25, 2009 the Detroit Election Commission voted 2 to 1 in favor of placing Proposal D on the November ballot.[4] However, on Monday, August 26, the Attorney General's Office wrote in a letter that the petition language was not clear enough to go on the ballot.[5]
  • Former state Rep. Steve Tobocman, who helped collected signatures, said,"I live in southwest Detroit and no one represents me."[1] The signature drive was also backed by the League of Women Voters in Detroit.[5]


In early August 2009 referendum supporters submitted approximately 30,000 signatures, enough to meet the required 28,000 signatures to place the measure on the ballot. The measure requires a simple majority to pass.[5]

See also

Additional reading