Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

With the Uniform Time Act of 1966, the US states had to decide if they were going to have daylight saving or stick to standard time all year. Further to the extract from my book on daylight saving time, The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy, at https://chrispearce52.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/daylight-saving-time-saga-indiana-1966-1972/, here’s an extract on daylight saving time chaos in Michigan during the same period. …

In Michigan, a bill to stay on standard time was passed by both houses and signed by the governor in March 1967. However, daylight saving supporters, including senator Raymond Dzendzel, the Chamber of Commerce and the Retailers Association, set out to obtain the 123,100 petition signatures needed (equal to 5 per cent of votes for governor at the last election) to force a referendum. If they were successful, the state would have daylight time for two summers before the scheme was put to the vote at the election in November 1968. Opponents of daylight saving, namely the state Farm Bureau, theatre owners and bowling alley proprietors, tried to block the petitions by taking the matter to the Court of Appeals. But the move was ruled to be premature. By late April, Dzendzel had collected nearly 200,000 signatures, suspending the state Act for standard time. But farming, bowling and theatre interests went back to court. The State Board of Canvassers delayed certifying the petitions due to suits pending in three courts. After a protracted battle, the Supreme Court handed the issue back to the canvassers.

Objectors to daylight saving checked a sample of signatures and found 41 per cent to be invalid, reducing the number of acceptable names to less than 120,000, and took the issue back to court again. The final number of valid signatures was determined to be about 125,000, enough for the switch to daylight time to be made on 14 June 1967. As a Michigan newspaper put it: “After months of debate in the Legislature, bills, amendments, court decisions, motions, appeals, referendum calls and other legal gobbledygook, Michigan today was an hour faster than the sun.” (Kit Kincaid, “Daylight saving time comes to state, some UP communities are holding out”, The Ludington Daily News, Ludington, Michigan, United States, 14 June 1967, p. 1). Hotel patrons weren’t impressed as the change meant an hour’s less drinking time. Nor were Upper Peninsula residents happy when they had to go from Central Standard Time to Eastern Daylight Time, a difference of two hours, pushing sunset back to as late as nearly 10 p.m. in western parts of the state. A dozen or more Upper Peninsula counties disregarded the law and used Central Daylight Time. Proponents of standard time pursued further but unsuccessful court action over the petitions.

The lead up to the referendum in November 1968 pitted businesses, city workers, participants in outdoor activities and easterners against farmers, parents, theatres, indoor sports, bars and westerners. Preliminary results indicated that out of about 2.8 million votes, daylight time won by some 25,000 and supporters were rejoicing. More than two weeks later, the final tally showed a win for standard time by just 413 votes and suddenly the other side in the confrontation was celebrating. Given the closeness, the Board of Canvassers decided on a recount, finding tabulation errors in several counties, uncompleted returns and uncounted absentee votes. The board’s revised figures had standard time winning by 1,501 votes.

Dzendzel and several business groups sought a citizen recount at a cost of $5 a precinct, refunded if the result was reversed. They checked about 2,700 of Michigan’s approximately 5,600 precincts in 80 of 83 counties and found many errors of various descriptions, prompting calls for a review of vote counting processes and staff training. Supporters and opponents of daylight saving anxiously followed media reports of the progress of the count. By 1 January 1969, the lead for standard time was down to 1,096 votes, reduced further to 550 by 29 January. The final difference was 488 votes, which meant that 50.01 per cent of people who voted chose standard time and 49.99 per cent daylight time although less than half the adult population cast a vote. Fast time supporters didn’t give up. Two law students took the matter to the Appeals Court. Also, a bill was introduced to rescind the standard time law.

When nearly the whole country began daylight saving on 27 April 1969, almost all of Michigan stayed on standard time. A few communities south-west of Detroit along the border with Ohio either changed to daylight time or had businesses, schools or churches that started an hour earlier. The Upper Peninsula was to shift from Central to Eastern time, and while three counties didn’t change, the others welcomed the move as they would be on the same time as Wisconsin.

A drive for petition signatures in late 1969 and into 1970 to force another ballot later that year was led by Dzendzel and there were more bills, hearings and court cases. Petitions now had to carry over 200,000 signatures as the threshold had been raised from 5 per cent to 8 per cent of votes for governor at the last election. But a problem over the legality of petition submission dates was tied up in court and time ran out for a public vote in 1970. Proponents struggled to get enough signatures and resorted to other means. A House vote on initiative petitions failed by 60 votes to 46, ensuring a referendum. In another move, the Supreme Court validated a request for the legislature to overturn its 1967 decision for the state to have standard time or else the daylight saving question would be on the November 1972 ballot. The legislature took no action.

Both sides kept pressing their views before the 1972 vote and the daylight saving advocates seemed to be winning the race according to polls. Market Opinion Research surveys found that the proportion of Michigan residents who wanted daylight time increased from 44 per cent in August to 49 per cent in September and 53 per cent in October. On election day, 55 per cent of people voted for daylight saving although the figure for the Upper Peninsula was only 27 per cent. After four years on standard time, the state joined most of the nation in putting clocks forward on 29 April 1973. That left Arizona, Hawaii and most of Indiana as the only states with year round standard time.

(end of extract)

The Great Daylight Saving Time Controversy is available at Amazon, Kobo and Apple.

DST book cover

Advertisements