Democracy Drumbeat: January 18, 2022
Voting Rights Updates:
We may be into the new year, but we are up against some of the same voter suppression tactics in Michigan, across the country, and in Washington, D.C.
Thankfully, our national legislators have the opportunity to protect our freedom to vote. The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act has passed the House of Representative and is waiting in the Senate. It would protect against anti-voter measures being proposed in Legislatures across the country and in Michigan that put restrictions on absentee voting, polling locations and more.
The only thing standing in the way of the Freedom to Vote Act is the Senate filibuster, or the ability for opponents of the legislation to hold the Senate floor indefinitely so a vote can never be taken (Read: The Filibuster Explained). The filibuster is a tactic that has been the subject of controversy causing significant gridlock on critical legislation. Without changes to the filibuster, the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act passed last week in the House would fail to advance in the Senate.
The filibuster as we know it today has many exceptions to its use, including budget reconciliation, the War Powers Resolution, confirmations for important governmental positions, and the National Emergencies Act, among others. As debate has grown around introducing more changes to filibuster rules to allow the Senate to pass critical voting rights legislation, there has been some hesitancy to do so. This begs the question: if there are exceptions for overrides such as budget reconciliation and war powers, why can’t there be an exception to allow the passage of something as critical as the Freedom to Vote Act?
Voting Rights Actions You Can Take:
- Encourage your friends and family to subscribe to the Democracy Drumbeat so they can also stay up to date on voting rights.
Michigan’s redistricting process crossed an important milestone when the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) held its vote on final maps on December 28, 2021, but there are important next steps to take before the final maps are adopted prior to this year’s elections. The public will also have an opportunity to weigh in with the commission to improve the process for future commissions.
The MICRC held its first meeting since voting on final maps on January 13, including a closed session with their legal team to discuss pending litigation. In addition, the Commission asked that the public provide spoken or written testimony before the end of January on how future commissions could make process improvements. Please see below for details on how to sign-up to provide feedback on your experience interacting with the Commission.
Elections Systems Manager Mark Payne continues to track any and all developments relating to the Commission and the redistricting process, and we will be sure to keep you updated as we move forward.
Next Steps & Actions You Can Take:
- The Commission welcomes the public to give their feedback on how the Commission could be improved. You can provide feedback during upcoming meetings or by visiting the Commission’s public comment tool that can be accessed through the Commission's website.
- 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, January 27, 2022 from 10:00 am to 2 pm. To provide testimony virtually, please visit this page and click on the meeting notice for January 27 (the notice will be posted at least 24 hours prior to the meeting).
- The Commission is required to publish final maps within 30 days of the vote, including reference materials and data used in drawing the final maps and any programming information used to produce and test the plan. This publication should be available January 27, 2022.
- 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.