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
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.