Democracy Drumbeat: February 15, 2022
Voting Rights Updates:
Bills that would put restrictions on secure drop boxes are making their way through the state legislature. The latest action occurred when Senate Bills 273 and 278 were discussed in the House Elections and Ethics Committee last week.
SB 273 would require additional, costly surveillance as well as signage on secure drop boxes and require that the Secretary of State and the County Boards of Canvassers approve all drop box designs. SB 278 would regulate how ballots are collected from the boxes. Our elections already are feeling funding pressures, and the potential high cost of these changes could make it impossible for some cities and townships to provide drop boxes, limiting voting options for some Michiganders.
Election season is already here for some Michiganders. Special election primaries will be held March 1 in the following State House districts:
- 15th in Wayne County
- 36th in Macomb County
- 43rd in Oakland County
- 74th in Kent County
To double check your State House district, check your registration status and learn more about the special elections visit mi.gov/vote.
Voting Rights Actions You Can Take:
- Check your voter registration status and see if you have a special election with the Michigan Voter Information Center at mi.gov/vote.
- Encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Democracy Drumbeat so they can also stay up to date on our work to protect voting rights and democracy.
Michigan’s redistricting process continues to see a number of legal developments in lawsuits filed against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC).
Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed the Detroit Caucus’ lawsuit that was filed against the Commission. The suit argued that the Commission’s final maps violated the Voting Rights Act by eliminating and reducing the number of majority-Black districts in and around Detroit. The decision to dismiss the case upheld the Commission’s final maps approved late last year.
In other developments, a brief was filed last Wednesday in the League of Women Voters vs. Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission lawsuit, and a third lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in Grand Rapids that challenges the Congressional Maps on the basis of district population differences.
Barring legal developments in the remaining lawsuits, Michigan’s new district maps are set to become law March 28, 2022 (60 days after adopted plan publication).
Next Steps & Actions You Can Take:
- Provide feedback to the Commission to help improve the redistricting process in future by submitting a comment through the MICRC web portal here. The deadline for giving feedback has been extended to February 28, 2022.
- The Commission’s next meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, February 24, 2022 from 10:00 am to 2 pm.
- You can review published final maps, including reference materials and data used in drawing the final maps, can be reviewed here.
Democracy All-Stars: George Davis
Welcome to the “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.
This week’s featured Democracy All-Star is George Davis, the current Board President of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters! A native Detroiter who has a 30-year career working in executive roles within government, business, and the non-profit sectors, George believes that Detroit is still the “arsenal of democracy,” working to preserve the right to vote for all Americans, even as we deal with those that seek to restrict our freedoms.
What compelled you to get involved in voting rights/systems change/democracy work?
My family is from Alabama. My earliest memories include discussions about voting in the South and the struggles that African-Americans faced. When I was exposed to the legacy of Jim Crow in the U.S. and apartheid in South Africa, I had to get involved with voting rights.
What democracy issues do you think are most important in your community?
The misinformation around voting. We have people who don’t believe that they can vote, or that they will be harassed for trying to vote, or that it will take too long to vote. None of these are true. We must continue to promote and teach the right information. We cannot leave voter information vacuums -we must fill them with accurate information.
What is one of your proudest moments while working in the democracy space?
My mother found an Alabama poll tax receipt that my grandmother paid to vote in 1954. It was shocking to see this Jim Crow legacy affecting my own family. But it gave great meaning to this work in my life. I have no choice but to continue the fight.
Thank you, George, for your hard work and dedication to protecting our voting rights!