Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: February 1, 2022

Voting Rights Updates:

John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act hits a snag in Congress

Efforts to pass federal voting rights legislation hit a roadblock several weeks ago when the John R. Lewis Freedom to Vote Act stalled in the U.S. Senate. The voting rights legislation would protect against bills being introduced and passed in state legislatures across the country and in Michigan that would take away options for voting and restrict access to the ballot. The Freedom to Vote Act failed to come to a vote after Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) refused to consider amending rules to the Senate filibuster that would have allowed the bill to move forward with a simple majority.

The fight for our freedom to vote, however, is far from over, and it is important to use our expanded voting options and access during the statewide elections in Michigan this year.

New ballot petition announced to protect and expand voting access

On Monday, Promote the Vote and a coalition of pro-democracy partners launched a new petition called “Promote the Vote 2022.” The petition introduces convenient early voting, expands secure, accessible drop boxes, and protects absentee voting, helping ensure Michigan voters have options for making their voices heard. You can read more about that petition here.

Staying engaged

Election Day may seem far away, but it will be here soon, especially if you live in one of the districts with a special election this year. The Democracy For All team will be sure to keep you updated with voting information and developments as we get closer to primaries, special elections, and the general election in November.

In the meantime, check out our new Q&A section below for more information about a Get Out the Vote campaign launch event hosted by the League of Women Voters - Detroit and the Detroit Public Library.

Voting Rights Actions You Can Take:

Redistricting Updates:

Deadline for feedback to the redistricting commission extended to Feb. 11

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) continues to seek feedback and input from the public to help improve the process for the future after voting on final maps in late December 2021. After Michigan’s first-ever, citizen-driven redistricting process was conducted, feedback from the public is integral to improving the process for the future.

It is important the Commission hears from people (like many of you) who participated in the redistricting process. Feedback can be provided in written form via the Commission’s website, as well as via virtual testimony during upcoming public meetings. The Commission is also encouraging the usage of the hashtag #improvemicrc on social media channels.

Use this web portal to submit a comment on what went well or how the commission can improve its process moving forward. The deadline to submit comments is February 11, 2022.

Lawsuits filed against the Commission

As the dust settles from the Commission's final vote last December, there are now two pending lawsuits that involve the MICRC: Detroit Caucus vs Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, filed with the State Supreme Court, and Michael Banerian vs Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, filed with the Southern Division of the United States District of Michigan. On January 26, 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court heard preliminary oral arguments in the Detroit Caucus vs MICRC case, with more legal proceedings expected over the coming weeks and months.

A third lawsuit against the Commission is expected to be filed by the League of Women Voters, this one for non-compliance with partisan fairness requirements throughout the redistricting process last year.

Next Steps & Actions You Can Take:

  • The Commission will meet virtually on a bi-weekly basis on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month for the next five meetings. Click here for a full calendar. You can also tune and watch the meetings on YouTube. To make a public comment you must sign up at the Commission’s website when sign-up links become available.

  • The next meeting will be held on Thursday, February 10, 2022 from 10:00 am to 2 pm.

  • Published final maps within 30 days of the vote, including reference materials and data used in drawing the final maps, can be reviewed here.

  • The new legislative boundaries for the State House, State Senate and Congressional districts will then become law 60 days after publication of the report.

  • The district maps will take effect before the 2022 primary and general elections.

  • Provide feedback to the Commission to help improve the redistricting process by submitting a comment through the MICRC web portal here. The deadline for giving feedback has been extended to February 11, 2022.

Democracy All-Stars: Charles Thomas

This issue we are proud to kick off our new “Democracy All-Stars” spotlight that features champions working on the frontlines to protect our freedom to vote, engage voters and ensure our democracy works for everyone.

Our first featured Democracy All-Star is Charles Thomas, the individual spearheading the voter turnout campaign entitled, “When You Vote - I Win.”

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

What compelled me to get involved are the activist roots of my family in Selma, Alabama, as well as the inequities in society, with through lines of class and race.

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

Voting! Simply put, the highest measure for success in the activist space is legislation, which means that we must vote. One of the most powerful, if not the most powerful tool of the activist is their vote.

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

Two individuals, both of whom I registered to vote; one who had just been released from prison; the other who – with tears in her eyes – told me she couldn’t vote because she had a felony, and I told her that she could and she registered.

Please share with us the importance and information about your upcoming events.

Upcoming events include an League of Women Voters - Detroit collaborative with the Detroit Public Library entitled “Three Marches – Two Sisters – One Bridge” on February 8th from which will spring a voter turnout campaign entitled “When You Vote - I Win” running through election season.

Thank you, Charles, for your hard work and dedication to protecting our voting rights!