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Labor and Economic Opportunity

A Message from the Michigan Black Leadership Advisory Council on Voter Suppression

May 18, 2021

Media Contact: Camara Lewis, 517-930-4928

The members of the Michigan Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) assert that the right to vote is the most sacred foundation of American citizenship. But that right is under attack by elected officials here in Michigan and nationwide who are seeking to suppress voters.

This vicious attack was the result of robust Black voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election in Michigan and other states, votes that were a repudiation of voter suppression. Election audits have proved that the election was fair. But members of the Michigan Legislature have introduced 39 bills that, if adopted, would lead to the disenfranchisement of all Michiganders, especially Black voters, in future elections.

The bills claim to solve problems that do not exist. For instance, they would:

  • Empower elections officials to remove or prohibit drop boxes.
  • Ban prepaid postage on absentee ballot return envelopes.
  • Require that a photocopy of identification be included with mailed absentee ballot applications.
  • Cut off vote-counting at noon on the day following an election, a move that likely would disenfranchise voters in large cities such as Detroit, where votes take longer to tally.
  • Limit the secretary of state's ability to help voters request an absentee ballot.
  • Require video surveillance of drop boxes for absentee ballots.
  • Lawmakers ignored pleas from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and other election officials to allow election volunteers to have 10 hours to pre-process absentee ballots before Election Day so that all votes can be counted on Election Night.

It is clear that these 39 bills are designed to intimidate Black voters. It is clear that these egregious tactics here in Michigan and everywhere are designed to limit the number of voters participating in our most democratic process.

That is the goal. It is un-American. And the clerks who run elections have criticized it. Chris Swope, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, has said the package of bills contains, "Some of the most egregious voter suppression ideas Michigan has seen."

What a shame for Michiganders who adopted a constitutional amendment just three years ago that expanded voting rights in 2018! This attempt to suppress votes is a slap in the face to all voters.
Gov. Whitmer has pledged to veto the bills, but its promoters met her pledge by declaring that they would gain more than 340,000 signatures to overturn her veto.

BLAC strongly opposes the bills. The council strongly opposes efforts to suppress votes, especially the votes of Black Michiganders.

We are calling on residents across the state to flood these legislators with phone calls and emails expressing outrage.

The leaders of three dozen major Michigan companies, including General Motors, Ford, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Quicken Loans, denounced the voter suppression efforts in Michigan and other states, without singling out any specific bills.

We call on residents across the state to contact the CEOs of companies across the state to oppose this mission, which is nothing short of an attack on our American way of life.

Visit BLAC's website to learn more and subscribe for updates.