Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: September 27, 2022

Democracy All-Stars: Aghogho Edevbie

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 Aghogho Edevbie!

Prior to joining All Voting is Local, Edevbie worked as an attorney for Wayne County, MI, and was a candidate for the Michigan House of Representatives in 2018. Edevbie has been actively involved in voter protection efforts since 2010, primarily recruiting and organizing fellow attorneys to be poll workers and poll watchers on Election Day.

Before becoming an attorney, Edevbie spent time in Tanzania, where he taught at St. Peter Claver High School and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. He also interned with the Michigan Supreme Court and with Federal Judge Arthur Tarnow.

A Detroit native, Edevbie has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School.

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

My parents are immigrants from a country where democracy has struggled to take hold. I have known since I was a kid how important and unique it is for all of us to be able to vote. With this in mind, I jumped at the chance to start volunteering for voter protection efforts in law school in 2010. I started as a poll challenger at a precinct and slowly gained more responsibility until I was hired as Michigan State Director of All Voting is Local/All Voting is Local Action in 2020. The events of the last few years have made it all the more clear that our democracy cannot be taken for granted, and this essential fact guides my work everyday. We all have a responsibility to do our best to preserve this special experiment for future generations.

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

The biggest issue right now is the lack of confidence voters have that their ballot will count. The initial decision by the Wayne County Board of Canvassers in 2020 to refuse to certify the election results has cast doubt in many minds. This has been compounded by conspiracy theorists who are waging a nonstop disinformation campaign and continue to attempt to subvert democracy. Luckily, organizations like ours are helping clerks do their jobs, educating voters, and advocating for policies that protect the right to vote. This year All Voting is Local published a set of guidelines to help prevent unruly poll workers from interfering with our elections, and all 83 counties successfully certified our August primary results. Of course, there is still more to do and I invite anyone interested in protecting our democracy to join us on September 29th at 5:30pm at the Spirit of Detroit to learn more.

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

Last year 39 anti-voter bills were introduced in the Michigan State Senate. These bills would have prevented some voters from registering to vote, casting absentee ballots, and ultimately having their voices heard. The pro-democracy coalition came together to fight these bills. We testified before committees of the legislature, organized, spoke to the media, and made our case. As a result, few of those bills passed the legislature, and those that did were vetoed by the Governor. But we did not stop there. We used this moment to write five policy white papers on pro-voters policies and got local governments to back those efforts. Many of these policies are now contained in the Promote the Vote 2022 ballot initiative.

Thank you, Aghogho, for your hard work and dedication to our democracy!

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].

Democracy Updates

Spirit of Democracy

The Spirit of Democracy is strong! Join the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, All Voting Is Local, and other partners for a celebration of the people who help make it that way!

Join us at the Spirit of Detroit on September 29 at 5:30 PM for an evening of community building and celebrating everyday people doing their part to make our democracy strong.

More information can be found on the sign up page.

I Belong

Charles Thomas Jr., our first featured Democracy All-Star, an African-American, retired postal manager, pastor and full-time voting rights activist from Detroit, wrote his first poem, "I Belong", as part of his Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign, When You Vote, I Win (GOTVMI.org). The poem is now an inspiring two-minute film and one-minute social media edit, I Belong, directed by a Detroit BIPOC production crew, featuring Detroiters reciting Charles' poem in Detroit locations.

Designed to plug and play into any GOTV campaign, I Belong is a fantastic, free voting resource that you can use and share person-to-person! I Belong is the emotional trust connection that opens hearts and minds to conversations about voting. I Belong encourages Greater Detroiters to vote as a way to confer dignity and respect upon one another and to stand up for each other.

Check out the short film and share it amongst your networks!

Ballot Issues: Term Limits, Reproductive Right, and Voting Rights

The Detroit Public Library and the League of Women Voters Detroit are co-sponsoring a deeper dive into the status of the three petitions that will be on our Michigan Ballot for the General Election, November 8.

Register for this virtual event here>>>

The event will center around a review of the three constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot by Eric Lupher of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. As there is a lot to understand about each of the three petitions and their possible impact if approved by the electorate to be put into the Michigan Constitution, this event is a great resource for people interested in learning more! Join them on October 11 at 6:00pm.

Sign up to be a Poll Challenger

With the November 8th general election right around the corner, the Democracy for All team is continuing our work to protect and defend our right to vote. One of the ways we’re doing this is by participating in the state’s nonpartisan rapid response program, which is designed to address misinformation and voter suppression whenever and wherever it occurs.

Nonpartisan election challengers are a crucial part of this program and you can sign up to get involved and serve your community!

Nonpartisan election challengers:

  • Monitor the election process at the polls, at clerks’ and satellite offices, and at absent voter counting boards
  • May challenge poll worker actions if the challenger does not believe that the poll worker is following Michigan’s election law
  • Must be registered to vote in Michigan and receive training and credentials

If you’ve never volunteered as a poll challenger before, and don’t know much (or anything!) about Michigan’s election law – no problem! In the weeks leading up to Election Day, our partner Promote the Vote will provide all challengers with comprehensive training on their rights and responsibilities, and on Michigan’s election law.

Challengers are needed throughout the state on Election Day (November 8), both at the polls and at absentee ballot counting boards. While challengers are encouraged to volunteer the entire day, if possible, shorter shifts are also available.

Challengers may also be needed before Election Day (at clerk and satellite offices) and immediately after Election Day at larger absentee ballot counting boards.

If you are interested in volunteering as a poll challenger, email Voting Rights Manager Brooke Harris at [email protected].

Democracy Actions You Can Take

Apply for your absentee ballot for the November 8th General Election:

  • Voters with a current Michigan driver's license or state ID can complete their application online at michigan.gov/vote.
  • Alternatively, voters can print and submit an application for an absentee ballot from michigan.gov/vote or they can call their city or township clerk and ask that an application be mailed to them.
  • Voters may also use any application for an absentee ballot provided to them by the Secretary of State, their clerk, a political party, or another organization.

Keep an eye out for you absentee ballot:

  • Absentee ballots will begin being mailed on September 29th. If you've applied for an absentee ballot, keep an eye out for your ballot to arrive in the mail. You can track your ballot at the Michigan Voter Information Center.
  • Once you receive your ballot, fill it out, place it in the envelope provided, and sign the outside of the envelope using your official signature (like your driver’s license signature).
  • Turn in your signed ballot by dropping it off at your clerk’s office, satellite, or dropbox as soon as you can and no later than the close of polls at 8pm on November 8, 2022.

Election Season in Michigan - Key Dates

With election season underway, here are a few important dates to keep in mind as elections approach and folks begin making their plans to vote over the next several months:

  • August 25, 2022: Applications available for absentee ballots
  • September 24, 2022: Clerks electronically transmit or mail (as requested) an absent voter ballot to uniformed services or overseas voters who applied for an absent voter ballot 45 days or more before the election
  • September 29, 2022: In-Person Absentee Voting Begins - Absent voter ballots must be available for issuance to voters
  • October 7, 2022: Deadline for clerks to set satellite polling locations, dates, and times
  • October 24, 2022: Last day to register in any manner other than in-person with the local clerk for the November general election
  • November 8, 2022: Statewide general election

Ahead of the November general election, it is important to be aware of all of the voting options available to you and to make a plan about how you are going to vote. Whether it be absentee ballots, voting in-person ahead of Election Day, or casting your ballot at a satellite polling location or secure drop box in your community, Michigan voters have an array of accessible voting options to choose from. Once you make your voting plan, help your friends and family make their own plans! Our democracy functions best when everyone can make their voices heard.

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!