Written By Tanya Terry, with photos by Tanya Terry
Voters Not Politicians Education Fund (Voters Ed Fund), in partnership with the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council and Concerned Pastors for Social Action, recently hosted the “Flint Voter Access Town Hall.” There, the many residents who attended were able to discuss how to navigate new changes to Michigan’s voting laws as community leaders addressed expectations of voter turnout and answered questions from the community.
The Flint Voter Access Town Hall is part of a total campaign that is looking to make sure that historically marginalized communities in our democracy are engaged and informed in this upcoming election year, according to Melinda Billingsley, communications manager for Voters Not Politicians.
The Town Hall was held on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Flint Development Center.
Billingsley pointed out it was part of the My City Votes 2024 Campaign, which includes other municipalities.
“We’ve been to Benton Harbor, Muskegon Heights and Grand Rapids,” said Billingsley. “We’re going to Pontiac. So, all of these communities are part of a large campaign to make sure we’re hitting as many residents as possible, and getting them the correct information, straight from their local clerks – so that they are able to engage in their democratic process.”
Flint City Clerk Davina Donahue, Patrick McNeal (director of North Flint Neighborhood Action Council) and Pastor Juanita Crump of Five Fold Ministries Christian Center and Concerned Pastors for Social Action were the speakers for the event.
Crump asked attendees to remember the difficulty that Blacks and poor people had with being able to vote. She talked about some Blacks who were fortunate enough to be able to find the polls having to pay a poll tax.
“They weren’t prepared to pay money; it was supposed to be free,” said Crump. “There was another law that I remember them talking about. It was called the Grandfather’s Act. In that act, they would say to different people in the 1900s, if your grandfather didn’t vote, then you don’t have the right to vote. And the grandparents couldn’t vote because they were slaves.”
Crump said this was one of many ways to limit ability to vote. She said there was a message that should go forth from the meeting.
“Whether you live in the city of Flint or not, it’s our responsibility to begin to talk to people, especially our young people to let them know what price was paid that we have this right, and not to treat it like it’s just something you do and it has no value,” Crump said. “Not only does it have value, it is powerful! You can get a group of people together and the changes that you are able to make in Legislature, we are seeing it every day!”
Donahue reminded those in attendance of the Feb. 27 President Primary, which has an early voting schedule of Feb. 17-Feb. 25; the August 6 Michigan Primary, which has an early voting schedule of July 27-August 4 and the Nov. 5 General Election, which has an early voting schedule of Oct. 26 – Nov. 3. Donahue also reminded voters candidates will compete to represent voters in the 9th Ward in another special election on May 7.
This story was originally published by The Flint Courier News. Read more here: https://theflintcouriernews.com/voter-access-town-hall-encourages-informed-voting-in-our-community/