Groups say all votes must be counted, prepare to fight against voter intimidation on Tuesday

By: - November 7, 2022 4:38 pm

Representatives from Detroit Action, APIA Vote, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services. | Ken Coleman

On the eve of Election Day, a coalition of organizations declared that each ballot must be counted and that it won’t tolerate voter intimidation.   

“Nearly 2 million Michiganders have exercised their constitutional right to vote by absentee ballot, and millions more eligible voters will go to the polls tomorrow on Election Day,” said Micheal Davis Jr., Promote The Vote executive director, during a Monday news conference. “We want to remind everyone that it takes time for election workers to do their jobs thoroughly and count every vote. Proceeding carefully and diligently is what we all want and expect and that may take some time.”

Promote the Vote is leading a coalition supporting Proposal 2, a constitutional amendment to expand voting rights in Michigan that would require nine days of early in-person voting, require absentee-ballot drop boxes, only permit election officials to conduct post-election audits and more. 

Civil rights and ADA complaints can be filed with the DOJ

  • On Tuesday, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division personnel will be available all day to receive complaints from the public related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws by a complaint form on the department’s website https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or by telephone toll-free at 800-253-3931. 
  • Individuals with questions or complaints related to the Americans with Disabilities Act may call the department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 833-610-1264 (TTY) or submit a complaint through a link on the department’s ADA website, at https://www.ada.gov/.

Davis was joined by representatives from Detroit Action, APIA Vote, Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS). Their effort is a response to false claims by some Republicans activists and politicians that voter fraud occurred in Detroit during the 2020 presidential election that former President Donald Trump lost to President Joe Biden. 

Branden Snyder, Detroit Action executive director, said he’s concerned that the law requiring clerks to wait to tabulate absentee ballots until Election Day “will create misleading media reports and online rumors on election night.” 

He said the group has identified more than 100 people who will staff polling sites to help ensure that voters can cast ballots without harassment. It will also have a presence at Huntington Place, Detroit’s vote-countering headquarters, a site where GOP activists protested and tried to shut down the process in 2020. 

The strategy also comes after Republican Secretary of State nominee Kristina Karamo filed a lawsuit last month in an attempt to make Detroit residents vote in person or acquire their ballots in person at a clerk’s office. A judge on Monday dismissed the suit, saying she and plaintiffs failed to provide any evidence of fraud.

Karamo is facing Democratic Secretary of State on Tuesday.

“Already, far-right extremists are using their own confusion about voting to try to sow disinformation about the process,” said Snyder. “They have filed a lawsuit demanding that each and every Detroiter vote in person – not anyone else in Michigan, just Detroiters. While these extremists are focused on spreading disinformation and silencing our voices, we’re not going to stop speaking out for voting rights, and working to keep elections safe, secure and fair.”

A city of Detroit early voting ballot drop box located in Clark Park. The box, which is located in a largely Latinx community, is one of 13 vote and drop box sites in Detroit | Ken Coleman

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said it will be monitoring 64 jurisdictions in 24 states, including Michigan, for compliance with the Voting Rights Act. This has been standard practice since the act was signed in 1965. In Michigan, the DOJ will monitor Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Southfield.

Rima Meroueh of ACCESS noted that intimidating voters is a federal crime. 

“For our democracy to work for everyone, we all must be confident and assured in our freedom to vote, and we must exercise that freedom to vote in this election,” said Meroueh. “We want to urge each and every eligible voter in this state to make your voice heard in this and all elections.”

Rebeka Islam, APIA Vote-Michigan executive director, agreed and noted Michigan residents can register to vote at their clerk’s office and cast their ballot on Election Day. 

If someone has any questions about voting, registration or wants to report a problem, Islam said they should call or text 866-OUR-VOTE or go to 866ourvote.org.

Meanwhile, on Monday another group composed of We the People MI, Service Employees International Union, Detroit Action, Michigan Education Justice Coalition, 482Forward, Michigan United, Michigan Liberation, Mothering Justice, Rising Voices rallied near the city of Detroit Department of Elections building to promote voting access. 

All Voting is Local, another organization dedicated to providing voters an opportunity to cast ballots without political interference, said during another press conference held on Friday that right-wing “organizations and individuals are trying to create chaos and disinformation around our elections and disenfranchise Michigan voters.”

“I am extremely confident that the coalition groups that we have … from all across the spectrum are ready and are capable of standing up against whatever happens in the next couple of weeks,” said Aghogho Edevbie, the organization’s state director. 

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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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