Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: August 16, 2022

Election Day Stories!

This edition of the Democracy Drumbeat is dedicated to sharing stories from the August Primary. Keep reading for unique perspectives from Michigan LCV Education Fund staff!

Getting (and Staying) Registered to Vote

“I called Angel in hopes that he had signed and returned his absentee ballot. After discovering he had not received his ballot or application, I decided to look up his voter status. We discovered that Angel was not registered in the system. He told me he had been out of the country for a while and hadn't voted in several of the previous elections. I told him he could register to vote at mi.gov/vote and while he's on the website he can also fill out an application for an absentee ballot. He wanted to be signed up for emails so he could stay informed too! I'm so glad we were able to reach out to Angel and assist him with voting information. He may have never known he wasn't registered.” - Abby Simpson, 616 Votes Canvasser

Voting Via Affidavit

“I served as an Electronic Pollbook Inspector in Detroit. About halfway through our day, my chairperson noticed someone hanging by the door and asked if we could help them. They responded that their ID just expired. I told them it didn’t matter when it expired as long as they were still registered at this precinct. Now disheartened that they didn’t have it on them, they were relieved when I explained the affidavit option. They were very happy to have voted and said they were glad they hung around at the door.” - Brooke Harris, Voting Rights Manager

Voting is a Family Affair

“While making calls, I connected with a voter who seemed to be in a rush or preoccupied with something else at the time. However, this reinforced something I almost forgot, which is to not assume by a caller's background that the call might not go over well. I went through the script as usual and Ms. Stephanie informed me that she had gotten her ballot, although her son had not received his. She stated that they were waiting to take them in because as of two years ago, her family began to take photos when they dropped the ballots off together. She also added that she still has the picture of her mom from two years ago when they voted. I told her how amazing that was and I proceeded to give her the information to her clerk's office. She then hurried off of the phone because she wanted to be sure to call the clerk's office immediately after this phone call. I'm guessing not only to vote, but to get this year's annual voting pictures in as well. It was my pleasure and it made my day to help Ms. Stephanie, as well as to know that some people are still holding a tradition of recording such historical events.” - Rodney Austin, 313 Votes Lead Canvasser

Working as a Poll Challenger

“I volunteered to work as a Poll Challenger through Promote the Vote. The training I received was excellent, including a comprehensive video, links to downloadable materials and guides and access to a supervisor. I arrived at my assigned polling location in Canton excited and prepared to spot any miscues or funny business on the part of poll workers and, most importantly, to challenge any other challengers who might try to disrupt or obstruct the voting process. As it turned out, there were actually three polling sites inside Plymouth, Salem and Canton High Schools, all within 10 minutes of each other.

All of the sites were fairly quiet. There were 10-12 poll workers at each, which was more than adequate to handle the voters. I never saw more than 3-4 people in line and the only minor flare-ups were when a voter was told they were at the wrong site for their precinct. A few people had to sign affidavits stating that they had not voted on the absentee ballots they had received at home. A few others had to scrap their original ballot when they realized that they had voted for candidates from both parties, which is not allowed. These duplicate ballots were all properly registered in the official "poll book" at each location. All in all, the election process was smooth and well-managed, which is what we hope for.” - Lee Berry, Development Director

Democracy All-Stars: Thomas Jenkins

Our “Democracy All-Stars” spotlight features champions working on the frontlines to protect our freedom to vote, engage voters and ensure our democracy works for everyone.

This week’s Democracy All-Star is Thomas Jenkins!

Thomas is a dedicated, focused, and driven individual from Detroit Michigan, where he was born and raised. He is currently a student at Wayne State University, where he is a double major student in African American Studies and Psychology. Throughout his time in college, Thomas has been focused on helping at-risk youth/minorities by volunteering in local neighborhoods at food banks.

What compelled you to get involved in voting rights/systems change/democracy work?

I have always been invested in politics and the news. From an early age my family always seemed concerned that for a youngster I liked being socially aware about what’s going on in my community & neighborhoods. I think voting is integral to the foundation of democracy and without it we run the risk of becoming an authoritarian style country. The only way to have real change is to mobilize and put in the work.

What democracy issues do you think are most important in your community?

Equal access to voting for all has to be the top priority for everyone when it comes to democracy. When we have politicians pushing restrictive voting rights bills in congress it can be disheartening to witness. But if we want issues such as affordable housing and equal job access for minority groups to be fixed, each and every one of us should have the right to vote. Your vote is the only thing that can fix these issues. Without it, democracy will crumble. It’s imperative that we fight bigwig politicians by getting involved in voting at the local level.

What is one of your proudest moments while working in the democracy space?

Being that this is my first year with Michigan LCV, I have enjoyed being able to talk to people through voter phone banking. Many people do indeed want to be involved in the democratic process, but don’t necessarily know where to look. It has been a riveting experience getting to speak to the citizens of Detroit and informing them on important voting information.

Thank you, Thomas, for your hard work and dedication to our democracy!

Do you know someone in your community who is a Democracy All-Star? The Democracy For All team is looking for more Democracy All-Stars, and would love to highlight them and their work fighting for democracy for all. You can send a submission for a Democracy All-Star in your community to [email protected].

Questions & Answer:

Q: Why aren’t election results available right when the polls close on election night anymore? - Sue from Detroit

A: Thanks for your question, Sue! Now that Michigan has no-reason absentee ballots, more people are voting absentee. Unlike other states, Michigan does not allow pre-processing of absentee ballots before Election Day, so if many voters chose to vote that way in a city or township, it may take quite a while to process them all on Election Day. You can learn more by watching this video from the Michigan Department of State. - Brooke Harris, Voting Rights Manager

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If you have questions about the Democracy For All team’s work or topics covered in the Democracy Drumbeat, you can submit your question using this form.

We will review your questions and pick one to answer in the next issue of the Democracy Drumbeat!

Thanks for reading and have a great week!