Thursday, October 19, 2023
Michigan lawmakers are set to consider a new Voting Rights Act for the state by next week.
Introduced in June, Senate Bills 401, 402, 403 and 404 aim to counter voter suppression, safeguard voting rights and ensure future access to the ballot.
Paula Bowman, co-president of the Michigan chapter of the League of Women Voters, noted the diminishing influence of the national Voting Rights Act and anticipated strengths in Michigan’s voting protections.
“It will expand protections for voters who don’t speak English as their primary language,” Bowman pointed out. “It will allow them to read the ballot in a language that helps them make the best decision possible in the ballot box.”
The state’s version of the Voting Rights Act builds upon the 2022 Promote the Vote ballot measure. The combined efforts aim to provide voters with protections, irrespective of their race, physical abilities or language spoken, during the 2024 elections.
Brett Edkins, managing director of policy and political affairs for the group Stand Up America, said there are a lot of extreme politicians in Michigan who have worked hard to overturn elections and throw up barriers to voting.
“Michigan’s democracy remains under very real threat,” Edkins contended. “But the Michigan Voting Rights Act is an opportunity to protect the freedom to vote of every eligible Michigander for years to come and ensure that Michigan is a national leader on democracy and voting rights.”
The proposed Michigan Voting Rights Act is envisioned as the most comprehensive array of protections in Michigan’s history, encompassing all voters, including Black, brown, new American and individuals with disabilities. It draws from best practices found in state voting rights acts throughout the country.
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