Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: August 17, 2021

Direct Voter Contact Program Recap: Making a Difference in Detroit

Led by our DFA organizer, Nina Wimberley, our 313Votes virtual canvassing team worked hard ahead of the recent primary election to educate voters about all the options available to them. Our team of amazing canvassers provided critical information, such as how and where to return absentee ballots, vote before Election Day at their local clerk’s office or satellite, as well as checking polling location information!

Overall, our program achieved some fantastic results across Detroit and Hamtramck:

  • 299,278 calls made
  • 12,090 texts sent
  • 7-9% contact rate

During the course of his work on our canvassing team, Rodney Austin captured a fantastic conversation that he had with Nzingah, a voter in Detroit. Nzingah described how seriously she takes voting and how important the freedom to vote is to her. She shared a story about how she made sure her brother voted in an election, even going so far as to follow him inside the polling location to make sure he cast his ballot. Nzingah described her disbelief that people, including her own brother, did not believe that voting made a difference.

The stories kept coming. In another instance Nzingah described a time when she asked a young man about voting. During the conversation, the young man told her that the only way he would cast his ballot was if he had a ride to his polling place, at which point she committed to making sure he had one. Her passion for voting and the freedom to vote was more than apparent, and she worked as a canvasser for almost 50 years.

In the hopes of seeing a broader array of representation on the local level, Nzingah said she hopes more and more people continue to get involved in the democratic process. Very appreciative of our team’s work and the phone call, she was only concerned that she was taking away time from us speaking to people who might need some more help, information, or a gentle nudge to get out to the polls and vote.

Primary Debrief: The DFA Team’s Election Day-Related Work

On Election Day, August 3rd, four of our teammates served as poll workers. Serving as a poll worker is an extremely important job, and one that often goes underappreciated. Poll workers ensure our elections run smoothly, helping voters find their polling location, answer questions about procedure, and assist those with any special voting needs that they may have.

Want to join our teammates as poll workers in November? Sign-up at www.mi.gov/democracymvp!

Our DFA teammates Brooke Harris and Clare Allenson served as poll workers in Detroit and had some stories from their time working the August 3rd primary!

Along with serving as poll workers for the primary election in Detroit, our DFA team has been working closely with our cohort of Grow Detroit Young Talent (GDYT) interns as they learn about our organization and gain important skills over these summer months.

GDYT talent intern Destiny Thompson has been honing her video skills and ahead of the primary election, created a video on the importance of voting for her personal YouTube page! Fellow GDYT intern Rose Abou Assaly has been helping to brainstorm engaging social media content and revamping our Voting Rights 101 presentations! We are extremely lucky to have such a talented, smart, and engaged group of interns to help our team with this important work.

Redistricting: Putting People First in Our New Independent Mapping Process

On August 12, the Commission voted 9-2 to hire the DC-based firm Baker- Hostetler to serve as their Litigation Counsel. Mark Payne, who leads our DFA team’s redistricting work along with several partner organizations, testified and asked the Commission to extend the Request for Proposal (RFP) period to allow for more than one firm to be considered. While the Commission did not choose to provide additional time, Mark provided critical public perspective in our new independent redistricting process.

Also on August 12th, the Census Bureau released raw data from the 2020 Census, providing insight into how population has shifted not only in Michigan but across the country. This census data will be used to draw the new maps.

As the redistricting process continues and the Commission keeps working, here are some actions you can take:

  • Public Comment Tool
  • Attend Partner-led Trainings: There will be trainings on August 17th, August 24th, and September 1st
  • Meet the Commission! The MICRC is now holding in-person weekly meetings, rotating locations across the state including a college tour. See the full schedule and more information on participating in the redistricting process here.

Voting Rights: WeVoteMI Voting Rights Tour

Over the last two weeks our team has worked alongside dozens of partners across the state to organize rallies in support of Michiganders’ freedom to vote to raise awareness and fight back against voter suppression efforts in our state and celebrate our right to an accessible ballot.

Here are some highlights:

Michigan United and PROACTIVE Grand Rapids kicked off our pro-voter tour on August 4th with a small, intimate event at Boston Soul Cafe in Grand Rapids!

The following week on August 9th, our DFA teammates Nina, Clare, and Brooke, along with Aghogo of All Voting Is Local MI and Christy of Sierra Club Michigan, helped Oakland Forward host an event at the Bowens Senior Center in Pontiac!

The event drew media attention, as well as more than 50 people! Check out this clip of Oakland Forward director Kermit Williams speaking with Click-on-Detroit Channel 4!