CHICAGO — An effort to overturn Michigan’s controversial emergency management law failed Thursday when the four-member State Board of Canvassers deadlocked on whether to put the measure on the November ballot.

If the board had approved the ballot measure, it would have immediately suspended the one-year-old law — a move with potentially big consequences for a state that has seven local governments under emergency management.

A suspension or repeal would also have significantly weakened the consent agreement recently inked between Detroit and the state.

Supporters of the ballot measure said they would likely appeal the board’s decision to the Court of Appeals.

The board split 2 to 2 along party lines on whether the font size on parts of the petitions was too small. The two Democrats approved the petitions, and the two Republicans voted against it. Angry protestors who filled the room shouted as the Republicans voted down the petitions, and later confronted the board members as they tried to leave the room, local reports said.

Stand Up for Democracy, a coalition of groups, gathered 203,238 signatures, about 40,000 more than necessary to get a question on the ballot.

They charge that Public Act 4, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act usurps democracy by allowing the state to take over fiscally stressed governments with an emergency manager who displaces locally elected officials.

A group called Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility challenged the petitions, saying the font size in the headlines was too small. 

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