Actress Kerry Washington: It can’t be ‘harder for me to vote than it was for my grandparents’

Whitmer, Benson and Nessel push for Detroit votes

By: - November 6, 2022 6:53 am

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, actress Kerry Washington and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in Detroit on Nov. 5, 2022. | Ken Coleman

Updated, 7:51 a.m., 11/6/22

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and fellow Democrats joined actress Kerry Washington on Saturday night to rally at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Washington, best known for her roles in the movie, “Django Unchained” and the TV show, “Scandal,” told about 300 people that voting in the midterm election on Tuesday is vital.

“What’s happening in Michigan is electric,” said Washington, who campaigned in Georgia on Oct. 22 for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams. 

Whitmer, who faces GOP nominee Tudor Dixon, and Democrats did public events Saturday in Lansing and Detroit. Dixon on Saturday stumped in Zeeland, Jackson and Waterford Township. 

“The fact of the matter is that we are three days out [from the election],” said Whitmer during a media scrum held after the 90-minute event in Detroit. “We are crisscrossing the state and making sure people know how incredibly important this midterm election is. You know, people have a tendency to tune out a little bit this time, every other cycle, but who your governor is matters from when you turn on the [water] tap, the roads you drive, the schools that you drop your children off at, whether you’ve got a good-paying job. … That’s what’s really at stake.”

The top Democrats on the ballot were at the Wright Museum event: Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist; Attorney General Dana Nessel, who faces GOP challenger Matt DePerno; and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who faces Republican challenger Kristina Karamo. U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also spoke. 

Other featured guests included EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler and Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson, who helped lead a Grand Rapids rally earlier Saturday in support of Proposal 3, which would enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution. 

 

Washington talked about Republican efforts to restrict voting rights. Since former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden in 2020, Republicans in Michigan and across the country have pushed a slew of voting restrictions, which often disproportionately impact BIPOC voters.

“It can’t possibly be harder for me to vote than my grandparents,” said Washington, who is African American. 

Washington also stressed that Democrats will protect reproductive rights. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

“I’m going on the road because it’s not OK that my daughters can be attacked for their right to make decisions about their own bodies. That’s not OK,” she said.

“I’m going on the road because I want my family, my kids, to have good jobs and a good education and a planet to live on. I’m here tonight because each of these candidates, these Democratic candidates, from top to bottom, they are standing up for those same rights.” 

This election, Michiganders will vote on a statewide voting rights measure, Proposal 2, which would require nine days of early in-person voting, require absentee-ballot drop boxes, only permit election officials may conduct post-election audits and more. 

While the amendment is backed by the League of Women Voters, Voters Not Politicians, Democrats and others, it’s opposed by the Michigan Republican Party and several GOP leaders. 

There have been some last-minute lawsuits filed in Michigan before the election that have been blasted by voting rights advocates as trying to suppress the vote. The Michigan GOP’s suit in Flint seeking more Republican election inspectors was tossed last week.

Karamo, who has falsely claimed that Trump didn’t lose in 2020 and joined lawsuits to that end, last month filed a suit to stop Detroiters from casting absentee ballots — even though the Michigan Constitution guarantees that right. The judge said she did not prove the election fraud that she claimed when filing the case.

Attorney General Dana Nessel wrote in a brief supporting the city of Detroit that it was “reminiscent of the frivolous attacks leveled at the City and its election workers regarding the November 2020 presidential election.”

Gilchrist, a Detroiter who is scheduled to cast his vote on Sunday afternoon, told the crowd that they are a key to Democratic wins on Tuesday. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey on Thursday predicted a Detroit voter turnout between 28 and 33%. 

“Not what we hoped, but it is what it looks like right now,” said Winfrey.  

Detroit’s voter turnout was 41% in 2018, which was the last midterm election. That ballot included a recreational marijuana statewide initiative that attracted nearly 70% of the local electorate, significantly higher than the 56% of voters who supported the measure statewide. 

“When Detroit wins, Michigan wins,” said Gilchrist on Saturday. “When Detroit votes, Michigan wins. When Detroit votes, America wins.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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