Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: December 14, 2021

As we take time to look back at the past year of work, we are so grateful to our readers who have joined us in tracking critical issues that will determine the health of our democracy for years to come. Below, we have included key updates on both the redistricting and legislative front since our last newsletter.

After this week we will be taking a holiday break and look forward to continuing our dialogue in the New Year, beginning with a redistricting-focused edition on January 4th.

From all of us on the Democracy For All team we wish you a happy and healthy start to the New Year!

- Brooke, Clare, Mark & Nina

Redistricting Need-to-Knows:

Thursday, Dec. 16 10 a.m. - The Commission is scheduled to meet at Cadillac Place in Detroit for a final review of the voting process for the proposed collaborative and individual maps under consideration.

Tuesday, Dec. 28 10 a.m. - The Commission is scheduled to hold its final vote on proposed collaborative and individual maps. They have reserved Dec. 29th and 30th in the event they require additional time to deliberate. The meeting(s) and vote will take place at the Cadillac Room in Lansing. Pending any lawsuits, this will be the final step in the process before the new maps are final.

There has been recent controversy over the Commission’s decision to not release two memos recorded during closed door meetings, leading to the Detroit News, Bridge Michigan, and other media outlets announcing lawsuits against the Commission. Please see the article from the Detroit News for more information.

The Commission had a meeting December 2nd, where they discussed whether or not they should release two memos and the video recording of their October 27th meeting, which took place under client-attorney privilege. The Commission voted not to release the two memos and the recording at the advice of their legal team.

Redistricting Actions You Can Take:

  • Sign up for the final meeting at 10 a.m. on December 16, 2021 in Detroit! Please go to michigan.gov/micrc.

  • After you reach the website, please go to “Meetings Notices & Materials” to sign up and make your voice heard to the Commission. In-person testimony will have precedence over the virtual testimony. You must sign up before 9am the day of the meeting to testify virtually. You can also comment directly on the maps here.

Anti-Voter Legislation Update:

2021 was surely a tumultuous year for voting rights in Michigan. From the 39-bill legislative package released in the Senate in March, to the anti-voter petition that was approved in September, attacks on our freedom to vote kept on coming. Our team, along with coalition partners and other voting rights advocates, successfully staved off these attempts so Michigan voters will be able to enjoy our expanded voting freedoms in the 2022 elections. We will continue this fight into the new year to ensure that voting remains easy and accessible for all Michiganders.

Anti-voter bills move:

  • Senate Bill 279 - Increases the amount of poll challengers allowed at absentee ballot counting boards. Last week SB 279 passed out of the Senate Elections Committee Though a substitute puts a limit of one poll challenger per three election inspectors per organization, this legislation could lead to an unmanageable number of challengers, especially at absentee counting boards as more than three poll workers are often used per counting board. It would put an undue burden on poll workers, who are already understaffed and under immense pressure.

  • Senate Bills 273 and 278 - Restrict access to ballot drop boxes and add unnecessary additional processes to collection of absentee ballots. Senate Bills 273 and 278 also passed out of the Senate along party lines and are headed to the House. These bills continue to follow the wider theme of election bills passed out of the Senate - solutions in search of a problem tied to the wider “Big Lie” surrounding the 2020 election.

Fortunately, bills like those mentioned above have been met with Governor Whitmer’s veto pen and we applaud her for her defense of democracy. However, the so-called “Secure MI Vote” petition will not be subject to the governor’s veto if backers of the petition are able to collect the needed signatures. The legislature can then adopt it as law without it ever making it to the ballot. Please see the voting rights actions you can take below to help us defend our freedom to vote.

Voting Rights Actions You Can Take:

  • Share our recent blog post with your friends and family and spread the message that the anti-voter petition and bills in our legislature seek to make it harder to vote, full stop.

  • Decline to sign the so-called “Secure MI Vote” ballot initiative if you encounter signature gathering around your community.