LANSING, Mich. – Joining the growing list of municipalities opposing efforts to restrict voters’ rights, the Oakland County Commission last night passed a resolution in opposition to the package of 39 bills in the Michigan legislature and the “Secure MI Vote” petition. Standing with the Oakland County elected officials, All Voting is Local, the League of Women Voters of Oakland County, the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN), and Voters Not Politicians spoke in support of the resolution.
“Despite the electorate making their voices heard in 2018 in support of increased access to voting, dozens of bills over the past several months to restrict voting have been introduced in the Michigan Legislature, making election administration less equitable and efficient, and undermining existing laws that keep Michigan elections safe and secure,” stated the resolution.
In 2018, a supermajority of Michigan voters – 67% – supported expanding access to the ballot. Now however, politicians are once again trying to manipulate the voting process by implementing legislation that would inhibit voting rights, rather than expanding them, and the GOP has launched a voter suppression petition drive to restrict voting rights.
The efforts to restrict voting would harm voters’ rights and elections, particularly within communities of color and lower-income communities. The changes proposed in the legislation would limit the use of ballot drop boxes, which proved to be a beneficial method of voting during elections that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, and would affect local clerks’ ability to conduct our elections fairly and efficiently.
The petition drive, while cloaked in the notion of security, would actually take away voting options on Election Day by removing voters’ right to sign an affidavit and cast their vote if they forget their photo ID at the polls on Election Day. Michigan already has some of the strictest voter-ID laws in the nation that ensure security while giving eligible voters options to verify their identity when voting (Promote the Vote Report).
Rather than stripping rights from voters, Michigan legislators should instead be focusing on efforts to make democracy more inclusive, such as:
- Providing additional voting options before Election Day to support equitable access to the ballot and alleviate stress on local clerks.
- Extending the ballot counting and processing period to at least 14 days before Election Day.
- Providing funding to local clerks through consistent standards to effectively serve voters.
- Supporting poll worker recruitment by providing additional tools for local clerks.
- Protecting and expanding ballot drop box accessibility, and setting uniform standards for their use.
“It cannot be overstated: We have safe, secure and accurate elections here in Michigan, with record turnout thanks to things like increased absentee ballot access, drop boxes, same day registration, and policies to allow strictly controlled provisional voting for those without identification on them at the voting booth,” said Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians. “We do not need new laws that pretend to be about vote security, but which we all know are really about voter suppression.”
These bills come on the heels of a historically successful election, where Michigan voters made their voice clear about election reform issues. A supermajority of Michigan voters – 67% – supported expanding access to the ballot through the Promote the Vote Proposal 3 ballot initiative in 2018. More than 5.5 million Michiganders exercised their constitutional right to vote in the 2020 presidential election — the most ever and the highest percentage of voting-age residents to cast a ballot in 60 years. Of those voters, 3.2 million cast their ballot by absentee. Over 250 audits at state and local levels showed that this election was safe, secure, and accurate.
Statements from Oakland County organizations and Commissioners include:
Oakland County Commissioner Marcia Gershenson:
“I was very proud to stand up and oppose the restrictive measures to limit voting in Michigan. These actions are happening all over our county and disenfranchise mostly the minority and lower income populations. It is hard to deny this is an effort to reduce the voter turnout by a constituency that usually votes Democratic.”
Kermit Williams, Executive Director of Oakland Forward:
“Our freedom to vote is a fundamental right, and all local officials have a duty to reject this shameful, politically-motivated power grab to restrict voting rights. Oakland County residents overwhelmingly support equal access to the ballot box for all people, including young people, seniors, black and brown people, individuals with disabilities, and rural communities. We should be investing in our elections to expand voting options for all eligible voters.”
Aghogho Edevbie, State Director of All Voting is Local Michigan:
“Officials have the power to enact policies that actually protect the freedom to vote and ensure all voices are heard in elections. We applaud the Oakland County Commission for publicly supporting pro-voter policies and pushing back against power grabs that are an intentional waste of resources, such as the ‘Secure MI Vote’ petition.”
Randy Block, Director, Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network:
“The Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, a statewide network of UU’s and our allies, strongly supports this resolution opposing voter suppression. Every person should be treated as having worth and dignity. We affirm that every Michigan citizen must be able to have their voices heard on social justice issues. We pledge to keep fighting for all citizens’ right to vote.”
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Voters Not Politicians is a nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to strengthen democracy by engaging people across Michigan in effective citizen action. Learn more at www.votersnotpoliticians.com.