Democracy Drumbeat: August 31, 2021
New ballot petition a blatant effort to suppress our freedom to vote
We should be celebrating our historic turnout in 2020 - a year that voters, poll workers and local clerks went above and beyond to participate in and protect our democracy. Instead, after months of seeking to undermine faith in our election systems in Michigan and a thus far an unsuccessful attempt to pass anti-voter legislation in our state legislature, anti-voter leaders have announced a ballot petition drive that would seek to restrict access to the ballot.
Our collaboration with partners under the WeVoteMI coalition has successfully slowed down the attempt to undermine our state’s democracy. As a result, the announced initiative would not be able to impact the 2022 election, but would impact 2023 elections onward. Should sufficient signatures be collected, the state GOP legislators have indicated they will enact the measure into law, circumventing the Governor’s promised veto as well as Michigan citizens.
The measure seeks to enact strict voter ID in Michigan, despite the fact that Michigan already has a voter ID law that works. In so doing, the measure would take away a critical affidavit option used by 11,000 voters across the state in 2020. To learn more about this issue, check out this great resource from Brennan Center For Justice. In addition, the petition would introduce new restrictions applying to vote from home and block under-funded local election officials from receiving grants that last year provided essential voter services with no plan to replace this funding in the state budget.
Our team will continue to work alongside voters to defend our democracy.
Redistricting: Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission kicks off “Mapping Week”
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) launched “Mapping Week” on Monday, Aug. 30, which is focused on educating Michiganders about how they can submit a map to the MICRC as the Commission continues to seek input from communities across the state. The first round of map drawing will be completed by the Commission on September 22nd so make sure to submit your input this week!
You can find resources and information about how you can plug into MICRC educational events during “Mapping Week” by visiting www.Michigan.gov/MICRC. Our team will be engaged during this week’s activities, and we strongly encourage you to do so as well. We need Michiganders from across the state to make their voices heard to ensure our new districts are fair and accessible for all.
On Thursday, September 2nd, the Commission will meet in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan’s Michigan Union (Rogel Ballroom) from 1-4pm and again from 5-8pm. The key focus of the meeting will be to receive a critical presentation from the Commission’s voting rights specialist, Dr. Lisa Handley who will present on the Voting Rights Act and racially polarized voting data analysis, and how these must be taken into account during the mapping process. These two elements are part of the first criteria (out of seven in order of importance) the Commission must consider as they draw new districts.
Democracy For All Coordinator Mark Payne will be attending Thursday’s meeting to testify and observe the proceedings. You can follow along as well by watching via their YouTube channel or attending in person if you’d prefer. Mark your calendars for the second round of public hearings kicking off Monday October 11th through the 28th.
Last week, Mark testified before the Commission about the need to increase time for consideration of the new districts in Metro Detroit. In a quote picked up by MIRS, Mark illustrated why Detroit and the surrounding areas deserve more time and attention so the Commission can get the new districts right and make sure all voters are accurately represented:
"The Detroit metro area is 40% of our population in Michigan and therefore it includes a significant amount of our state's districts. Given the number of people within these districts, more mapping time is needed for this area." - Mark Payne, Democracy For All Coordinator
As the Commission’s event schedule and the redistricting process timeline continues to evolve, we will keep you updated and informed on the details so that you can make your voice heard. The Commission has been moving swiftly in terms of mapping the UP areas so we can expect more time in the Detroit Metro area, however this process is fluid. The Commission has indicated that they may also add a mapping day on Friday to accommodate the time necessary to map such a populous part of our state.
As the redistricting process continues and the Commission keeps working, here are some actions you can take:
Submit a public comment through the online Public Comment Tool
Attend Partner-led Trainings: Partner led trainings will continue this week with the last of the series happening on September first. 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.
If you would like to watch the meetings or learn more about the Commission please visit the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Website which is here. After going to the website, you can click on Meeting Notices and Agenda. This will allow for you to sign up to attend remotely or virtual attendance and provide public comment to the Commission.
August and September will be busy making sure that our lessons learned from Wave 1 of our direct voter contact program and experiences as poll workers, election observers lead to improvements in the near term ahead of November 2nd and into the future.
Through our Clerk Engagement work alongside partners such as All Voting Is Local Michigan and Michigan Voices, as well as engaging with the Secretary of State’s team on our Democracy MVP program, we will work to find areas for immediate improvement and build toward longer term solutions as well.
Meanwhile, Wave 2 of direct voter contact will launch on September 20th. Stay tuned for more updates and information about how you can get involved with this important work!
Vote from home in September
Election time is here again. Absentee ballots drop on September 18. If you haven’t already requested your ballot to vote from home, you can apply online here.
Starting September 23, you can also vote before Election Day at your local clerk’s office or a satellite location. To find your clerk’s office, verify your voter registration status, see a sample ballot, and more, visit www.mi.gov/vote.
- 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.
- National and local partners are busy planning events to celebrate National Voter Registration Action Week that includes National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 28th. Stay tuned to our next edition for more details of ways to join in!
- Stay tuned for details of events in September and the months ahead! For more information, make sure to check out WeVoteMI.org!