Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: March 15, 2022

Voting Rights Updates

Michigan Auditor General Confirms 2020 election was secure, accurate

On March 4, Michigan Auditor General Doug Ringler, who was appointed by a Republican majority Legislature in 2014, released the results of his review of the state’s Bureau of Elections and the 2020 general election.

This review confirms what we already knew: the 2020 general election was fair and accurate. You can read more about the audit in our joint press release with All Voting is Local Michigan, Michigan Voices, and ACLU of Michigan.

The Auditor General’s report also included some recommendations to make the process smoother and take pressure off local clerks. Those include allowing time for pre-processing of absentee ballots, so clerks are not under a crunch come election day as the amount of absentee voters has increased significantly in recent years.

Voting Rights Bills Pass in the House

On March 10 – despite the Auditor General’s review again showing that Michigan’s elections are safe and secure – the State House passed five bills that would make it harder for Michigan voters to cast their ballots.

The bills would ban electronic signatures for absentee ballots, private funding for elections, and unsolicited mailing of absentee ballot applications by clerks, as well as any mailing of absentee ballot applications by the Secretary of State.

The bills would also require the posting of party affiliations of election inspectors and allow election challengers to observe voters registering to vote and voting absentee at clerk’s offices on Election Day.

Voting Rights Actions You Can Take:

  • Keep reading this newsletter to see the answer to a reader’s question about the permanent absentee ballot list and sign up for it yourself!

Redistricting Updates

As we draw closer to closing the book on Michigan’s 2021 redistricting process, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission continues to see internal and legal developments.

Internally, the Commission has elected Commissioner MC Rothorn as its new chairman and Commissioner Dustin Witjes as its new Vice President.

On the legal front, on March 4, a three-judge panel on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court dismissed a portion of the Banerian v. Benson lawsuit filed by a group of Michigan Republicans against the Commission. The court ruled that the lawsuits’ claims – that the Commission “violated federal requirements” in drawing new Congressional districts with unequal population sizes while determining communities of interest via “inconsistent and arbitrary methods” – were not applicable. The court’s decision is the latest in a series of legal rulings backing the Commission’s work on Michigan’s new districts.

Barring further legal developments, Michigan’s new district maps will become law on March 28, with an April 19 filing deadline for candidates looking to run for office during the 2022 election cycle.

Next Steps & Actions You Can Take:

  • The Commission’s next meeting will be held virtually on Thursday, March 24, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Commission will meet virtually through March.

  • You can review published final maps, including reference materials and data used in drawing the final maps, here.

Democracy All-Stars: Deolis Allen

Our “Democracy All-Stars” spotlight features champions working on the frontlines to protect our freedom to vote, engage voters and ensure our democracy works for everyone.

This week’s Democracy All-Star is Deolis Allen III, the founder and president of Child Development and Enrichment, LLC and a Detroit-based grassroots organization that works to empower and develop children mentally, physically and academically through enrichment activities, exercise and creative expression. Deolis is also deeply committed to civic engagement work in his community and is a board member of the Better Men Outreach Program, an organization with a mission to develop the physical, social and ethical aspects of life for young adult men in Detroit.

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

Every day we see change that is impacted by votes, yet voter turnout is low because people don't believe their voice matters. I got involved in voting rights work to educate and empower my community.

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

The major democracy issue in my community is the lack of representation, which has been voided to continue the status quo. I have heard conversations by so-called advocates, educators and politicians who refuse to speak to the community they claim to represent simply because the area has low voter turnout or someone from the household did not vote.

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

My proudest moment is registering young men to vote. This allows the young men to not only vote on the issues that matter to them, but it also gives them the opportunity to serve as a juror.

Thank you, Deolis, for your hard work and dedication to helping everyone exercise their freedom to vote!

Do you know someone in your community who is a Democracy All-Star? The Democracy For All team is looking for more Democracy All-Stars, and would love to highlight them and their work fighting for democracy for all. You can send a submission for a Democracy All-Star in your community to [email protected].

Question & Answer: The permanent absentee ballot list

Q: “Last year, I signed up to be on the permanent absentee ballot list, but I’m not quite sure what that means. Will the city mail out a ballot every election?” - Carol Ann, Traverse City, MI

A: Hey Carol Ann, thanks for the great question! Absentee ballots can be confusing and signing up to be on the permanent absentee ballot list is a tool to make the process a little easier. By signing up you will get an absentee ballot application before every election, NOT an absentee ballot. This is a great way to ensure that you know when every election is for your community.

If you are interested, you can visit the Michigan Voter Information Center website to register for the permanent absentee ballot list. - Nina Wimberley, Voting Rights Coordinator

By clicking the link you will be taken to the “Michigan Voter Information Center” website. Click on your voter information under the “Person Icon,” which will direct you to a page titled “Your Voter Information.” You will then be asked to input personal information and submit to see your voter status. By submitting you will be taken to a page with all your voter information; on the right hand side there is a section titled “Absentee Ballot,” below which you can register to be put on the permanent absentee ballot list and see your current status.

Submit a question for the Democracy For All team!

Do you have questions for us? We want to hear from you!

If you have questions about the Democracy For All team’s work or topics covered in the Democracy Drumbeat, you can submit your question using this form.

We will review your questions and pick one to answer in the next issue of the Democracy Drumbeat!

Thanks for reading and have a great week!