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LWVMI SPRING, 2016 MEMBER WORKSHOPS

The League of Women Voters of Michigan will host two workshops for members this spring :


1. April 16, Saturday - VOTE411 Training at the LWVMI office in Lansing. This workshop is for local League coordinators of VOTE411 and will be taught by LWVMI Voter Service Director, Eva Packard. Participants should bring their laptops.


2. April 30, Saturday Defending Democracy by Making Democracy Work Workshop at St. Pauls’ Church, north of the Capitol in Lansing. This event is open to all League members and will focus on the League's advocacy work on voter rights, voter protection, money in politics and redistricting.

The cost for attending each workshop is $17, includes early refreshments, a box lunch and materials. You can register online by clicking here, or you can print and mail in the registration form with your payment.

MARCH 8TH PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

Michigan’s Presidential Primary is a “Closed” Primary. Voters in closed primaries must state the party they wish to vote in before being issued a ballot. The ballot given to voters only has candidates of the party that corresponds to the voter’s choice. Other details:

• Any registered Michigan voter can participate in the Presidential Primary.
• You do not need to be a registered Republican or Democrat.
• You must choose the party in whose Presidential Primary you want to vote when you fill out the Application to Vote/Ballot Selection Form on election day or the Absent Voter Ballot Application Form if voting absentee. This requirement is only in place for a Presidential Primary; you will not need to choose a party in any other election, nor will you need to vote for candidates only in that party in other elections.
• Your Presidential Primary political party ballot selection – Republican or Democrat – is a matter of public record. The candidate you vote for will NOT be made public. The vote is by secret ballot, so the candidate you vote for is never disclosed.
• The ballots were finalized on December 11, 2015, so if a Presidential candidate withdrew after that date, their name will still appear on the ballot. Visit www.michigan.gov/elections for a link to the names of the 13 Republican and 4 Democratic candidates for President. It also has a link to facts and statistics about Presidential Primaries in Michigan.
• You may choose to vote for no candidate by selecting “uncommitted,” a choice that appears on each party’s ballot. If enough voters cast “uncommitted” votes, the party may send delegates to the national nominating convention who are not committed to a specific candidate.
www.VOTE411.org has information on upcoming Presidential Candidate Forum dates and will have candidate response information for Michigan’s Presidential candidates closer to the March 8th election.

A number of local jurisdictions are holding special elections in conjunction with the Presidential Primary. www.michigan.gov/elections has a link to the list of candidates for the three Special General Election races for three State House vacancies as well as a link to county websites for information on local election contests. Voters who do NOT wish to cast a vote in the Presidential Primary but want to vote in the local special election have the option of selecting a ballot containing only the local contests. Visit www.VOTE411.org to view available information about candidates and proposals on your ballot.

www.michigan.gov/vote allows you to view your Sample Ballot, track your absentee ballot status, verify your voter registration, find your polling place, contact your local election official and find answers to frequently-asked questions.

Absentee ballots will be available January 23rd. The last date to register to vote for the March 8th election is February 8th.

DEMOCRACY UNDER ATTACK IN MICHIGAN

The Michigan Legislature was extremely busy this December passing bills to change campaign finance and voting. None of the legislation improves our democracy. Two of the bill were passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor:


SB571. Besides including provisions that further reduce the transparency of campaign donations, this bill also includes provisions that block access to unbiased, objective communication on ballot proposals to local residents. The League is very concerned about the limits that will be imposed on our mission to educate the public. Read the Detroit Free Press article by clicking here.   The League joined with other state officials asking Governor Snyder to veto this bill on January 4, 2016. Our efforts were not successful.


SB 13 is a bill that eliminates straight-party ticket voting. There are a number of reasons why the elimination of straight party ticket voting is bad for voters:

 

 

 

• it minimizes options available to voters who clearly draw lines down partisan lines – this applies to both parties and across the state in urban, rural and suburban precincts,
• it leads to longer lines at the polls, which disenfranchises voters. According to the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation for longest wait in line,
• it leads to incomplete voting that suppresses the vote – the Citizen’s Research Council reports that, “A single voter is asked in an election cycle to vote on between 54 and 150 officials of state government and the judiciary and from 23 to 37 local government officials” and,
• it increases the cost for elections because additional machines need to be purchased and more staff needs to be hired.

The League of Women Voters supports election laws that make voting accessible and convenient for all citizens to participate and transparency in campaign financing.

REDISTRICTING IN MICHIGAN:  SHOULD POLITICIANS CHOOSE THEIR VOTERS?

The League of Women Voters of Michigan hosted over 30 Town Halls across the state of Michigan this fall to educate voters on the importance of redistricting. The events were free and open to the public.

The Town Hall presentation explored how legislative lines are drawn in Michigan, who draws them, and why it is a critically important question for those who care about fair representation.

In Michigan the district lines are drawn by the legislature, effectively allowing politicians to choose their voters, rather than the voters choosing their legislators. This system gives the political party in power at the time a tremendous advantage, but is this the best system for the voters? Our Town Halls will explore central questions, such as: What are the consequences of partisan drawn districts that favor one party over another? Is there a better and fairer way to do this? What are the alternatives?


For more information about redistricting, check out the Issues Page on our website.

SORTING OUT MICHIGAN'S ENERGY BILLS AND THE LEAGUE'S POSITION
Current Michigan energy law is set to expire at the end of 2015. We currently have PA 295, enacted in 2008, which provided that our utility companies diversify energy production to include 10% renewable energy by 2015. They have reached those goals. Renewable energy was defined as energy that is derived from sources such as solar, wind or water power. The House and Senate have been working on energy bills for some time. This would include HB 4297 and SB 437-438. These bills redefine renewable energy and call it “clean energy”. Clean Energy would include the burning of municipal wastes and coal if it does not violate any state or federal air emissions regulations. Read more about Michigan's energy dilemma and the League's position on legislative bills by clicking here.
CURRENT LWVMI NEWSLETTER
Click here to read the November, 2015 issue of the LWVMI Voter.