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Michigan Department of Civil Rights Supports Deploying Michigan State Police to Help Protect Voting Rights at the Polls on Nov. 3
October 21, 2020
LANSING, MI--Today, Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director James E. White announced the Department’s support for Attorney General Dana Nessel’s plan to enlist the help of the Michigan State Police to protect the rights of voters at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
White also reminded voters that if they believe they have faced unlawful discrimination in the effort to exercise their right to vote, they have the right to file a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy,” said White. “We take very seriously anything that interferes with that right in violation of state and federal civil rights law.”
Attorney General Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the Michigan State Police are working together to ensure voters will be able to cast their ballots in an environment that is free from bullying or interference. However, if on election day a voter believes they are experiencing or witnessing voter intimidation, they are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s office by calling 517-335-7659 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If in the effort to access a polling place, fill out or deposit a ballot or effectively participate in the Nov. 3 election, a voter believes they have faced discrimination and the problem was not resolved after contacting the Attorney General’s office, they are encouraged to contact the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and speak with a member of the MDCR Enforcement Division by calling 1-800-482-3604. They also have the option to file a complaint using the online complaint form at michigan.gov/MDCR or to contact the Department by email at MDCR-INFO@michigan.gov.
Michigan civil rights law prohibits discrimination in public accommodations (including polling places), employment, education, housing, public service and law enforcement based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, disability, genetic information, marital status, familial status, height, weight and arrest record.
“It is important to remember that barriers to voting do not always come in the form of intimidation or threat,” said White. “Individuals with disabilities have the same right to vote as everyone else and must be offered accessible options to ensure they’re able to cast their ballot.”
Voters with disabilities have the right to vote privately and independently and to have an accessible polling place, voting machines and/or ballots. They have the right to seek assistance from poll workers who have been trained to use accessible voting options, and to bring someone with them to the polls to help them vote. They also have the right to ask election officials to tell them about any voting aids, voting assistance and absentee ballot procedures that are available. If a voter with a disability faces a barrier to voting, they too have the right to file a complaint of discrimination with MDCR.
To learn more about election security and integrity in Michigan, go to Michigan.gov/AG and click on the tab, “Election Security and Integrity.” For more information on accessible voting, go to the Secretary of State website here: https://bit.ly/3khMtSu. For all other information on voting in Michigan, go to the Michigan Voter Information Center at Michigan.gov/Vote.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is charged with investigating and resolving discrimination complaints and works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws. It also provides information and services to businesses on diversity initiatives and equal employment law. For more information on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, go to www.michigan.gov/mdcr.
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