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Op Ed by Sam Inglot 

Progress Michigan

 

In 2018, Michigan voters made our voices heard in favor of democracy. Thanks to the passage of Proposal 3, Michiganders now have more options than ever before when it comes to how, when, and where to cast our ballots. Last year, we made use of those hard-won rights, which include same-day voter registration and the right for everyone to vote via absentee ballot.

 

Despite rampant disinformation and a deadly pandemic, Michiganders turned out in record numbers and election officials across the state worked hard to ensure everyone had the freedom to cast their ballot how they chose. This turnout was a win for democracy, something everyone should be able to celebrate regardless of ideology or political party.

 

Unfortunately, Michigan Republicans have chosen to embrace baseless conspiracy theories instead of celebrating our democracy—and instead of working to build on the progress we’ve made on voting rights, they’ve introduced bills that would make voting more difficult, especially for marginalized people.

 

After several months of continuing to spread disinformation designed to undermine public trust in our elections, Republican lawmakers are pitching these bills as a way to restore that trust and even claiming that their proposed changes will make voting easier, but Michiganders aren’t fooled. These bills are a direct attack on our voting rights that especially target Black and brown and low-income communities in order to suppress their voices.

 

Absentee voting is one of the rights enshrined in our state Constitution by Proposal 3, and it’s also one of the reasons why so many Michiganders were able to turn out and cast their ballots safely in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. But Michigan Republicans are taking aim at that freedom with bills that would bar clerks from providing free postage for absentee ballots, prohibit the state from mailing absentee ballot applications or postcards about absentee voting to voters who have not requested a ballot, and reduce access to absentee ballot drop-boxes.

 

Despite what Trump allies have claimed about the November election, all the evidence indicates that voting via absentee ballot was accessible and accurate. All these bills will do is place more barriers between Michigan voters—especially those who are already marginalized—and the ballot box.

 

If these lawmakers were actually interested in restoring faith in the process and quelling doubts about absentee voting, they could easily make an impact by allowing local election officials to process absentee ballots in advance of Election Day to prevent delays in reporting absentee vote totals. Unfortunately, they’ve chosen only to provide clerks with the same one-day window that already proved inadequate in the 2020 election.

 

The Republican bill package also includes several proposals that would make it more difficult to keep our elections running smoothly, like bills that would eliminate nonpartisan poll challengers and inject more partisan control over election processes.

 

Over the past few years, Michigan Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they’re far more interested in preserving their own power than they are in protecting our democracy. After all, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey even said once on the record that “big turnout in Michigan doesn’t necessarily accrue to [his] interests.” These bills are just one more example.

 

Republican lawmakers and Trump allies have been laying the groundwork for these bills and similar efforts in states across the country since before the 2020 election by spreading disinformation and sowing doubt about the integrity of our elections. Now, they’re openly lying about what the bill package would actually mean for the people of Michigan. We can’t let them roll back our voting rights.

 

Michiganders showed up big for democracy in 2018, and again in 2020. Now, we need to come together across race, income, and zip code to fight back against these voter suppression tactics and work to ensure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot.

 

Sincerely,

 

Sam Inglot 

He/Him/His

Progress Michigan

@saminglot / @progressmich

 

 

 
 

 

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2021 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04/13/21 17:50:40 -0700.

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