Community and Environmental Organizations Partner with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to Call for Action on Voting Rights.

More than 100 Michiganders joined Common Cause Michigan, the Sierra Club, Community Alliance for the People, Detroit Disability Power, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson for a digital event highlighting the importance of protecting voting rights in Michigan and the country. After historic turnout in the 2020 election, Republican lawmakers in Michigan have introduced 39 different bills to restrict voting access for citizens. This follows a nationwide trend for 2021, where so far 49 states have introduced nearly 400 bills restricting Americans’ access to the polls.

“Michigan voters want elections to be accessible, strong and secure. We saw this in 2018 when voters enshrined expanded voting rights in our state constitution, and again in 2020 when record numbers of voters exercised their new rights,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Our job now is clear: to defend and protect democracy by ensuring that no matter how one votes, who they vote for, where they live, or what they look like, their vote will be counted.”

“In Saginaw, we know that not everyone who can vote gets to the polls on Election Day. The last thing we should be doing is making it harder to vote. There is so much misinformation circulating in regards to voting, which is why we need strong leadership from the federal government to help make it uniform and easy to participate in our democracy,” said Nyesha Clark-Young, a leader with Community Alliance for the People.

The attacks on voting rights at the state level highlight the need for federal action to protect the right to vote for all Americans, which is why partners called for immediate passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The For the People Act proposes common sense reforms that will rein in the undue influence of dark money in elections, expand access to voting and increase the ability of the American people to hold elected officials accountable. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will restore the parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that have been gutted through recent Supreme Court decisions, including the requirement for states to pre-clear changes to voting rights with the federal government to ensure that they do not restrict access to the polls for underrepresented populations.

“Michigan and the nation are at a tipping point for both climate and democracy. Without a thriving democracy,  the sweeping changes that the climate crisis demands will be impossible.” said Roslyn Ogburn, a local leader with Sierra Club.

“Our election in 2020 was safe and secure, but in Saginaw, we know that everyone eligible to vote still doesn’t have easy access to the ballot. We agree with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that now is the time to expand access to the polls,” said Jeffrey Bulls, leader with Community Alliance for the People. 

“While we know that people with disabilities aren’t the target of these voter suppression measures, people with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by them,” said Dessa Cosma, the Executive Director of Detroit Disability Power.She continued, “What our community needs is more options and flexibility to engage in the democratic process, not less.” 

“The reforms in the ‘For the People Act’ are overwhelmingly popular across the political spectrum,” said Quentin Turner, Program Director of Common Cause Michigan. “The bill draws from policies that have long had bipartisan support at both federal and state levels, including Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. We need Congress to do whatever it takes to pass this bill so everyone has free and fair elections, regardless of where we live.”