|COALITION LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR COMPREHENSIVE ELECTION REFORM
|Between two jobs and four kids, Angela Willson has little time to spare. So Willson figures she should be able have the option of voting absentee in elections---without giving a reason. “Allowing all registered voters to choose to vote absentee would make my life a whole lot easier,” said Willson, a nurse anesthetist from Grosse Pointe Park. “And it would help our state line up with 37 others that allow all registered voters to cast their ballots on or before Election Day.”
Willson made her comments on January 22, 2018 at the kickoff for Promote the Vote campaign, an effort to place on the November ballot a constitutional amendment to provide comprehensive election reform for Michigan. Citing the need for an accessible and secure ballot for all, a coalition which includes the League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Michigan and the state and Detroit branches of the NAACP filed ballot language Monday with the Secretary of State’s office, organizers announced.
In addition to no reason absentee, the amendment would give military members more time to vote; let citizens register closer to Election Day; allow straight party voting, automatically register citizens when they do business at the Secretary of State’s office, protect a secret ballot and add audits for election results. The group called the reforms “common sense” designed to give more individuals a secure and accessible ballot. “We’re all better off when more Americans---Republicans, Democrats and independents---participate in our democracy,” said Judy Karandjeff, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “Providing a system that works for all isn’t hard; it just common sense.”
The changes mirror reforms enacted in 40 states that make voting more accessible. Once the ballot language is approved, the coalition has to collect approximately 316,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot. “Putting voters first means making sure that our system is fair and has integrity,” said Ismael Ahmed, a longtime community activist. “Under this amendment, our votes would be protected because our elections could be audited.”
Updating the voter rolls and making the system more secure is good news to Michelle Mills, who had to cast a provisional ballot in 2017 because of inaccurate information at her polling site. “We need a system that works for all,” she said.
For more information, watch this (Facebook) video, or go to www.promotethevotemi.com.
Read the complete proposal language here. Read the Detroit News recap of the ballot proposal here.
|LWVMI FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT TO END GERRYMANDERING IN MICHIGAN
On December 22, 2017, The League of Women Voters of Michigan and 11 individual voters filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan in federal court in Detroit to end unfair, partisan gerrymandering of Michigan’s Congressional, state senate and state house districts.
“The Michigan League of Women Voters today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of voters throughout Michigan to end the practice of unfair, partisan gerrymandering,” said Judy Karandjeff, president of the Michigan League of Women Voters. “Michigan’s State House, Senate and Congressional districts are among the worst in the nation when it comes to partisan gerrymandering, and today’s lawsuit aims to fix the problem and restore voters’ rights to choose who best represents them. Ending partisan gerrymandering is critical to preserve our democracy and ensure every vote counts,” said Sue Smith, director of the League’s Redistricting Program.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the current districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and to ensure that the districts are redrawn in a fair fashion. Click here for the complete Press Release. Click here to read the Complaint.
On December 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood signed an order allowing a three judge panel to hear the case. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr., and two other judges will preside over the case. Read the Detroit News article here. Details about the progression of the lawsuit through the court can be found here.
|REDISTRICTING REFORM IN MICHIGAN
The League of Women Voters of Michigan supports the ballot proposal initiated by Voters Not Politicians (VNP), that calls for an Independent Commission to establish district lines. On December 18, 2017, VNP submitted the requisite number of petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. We congratulate VNP on its successful efforts.
The League of Women Voters of Michigan continues to educate Michigan voters about the need for redistricting reform. Redistricting is a complicated topic, but citizen involvement to make this process fair is critical. Click here to visit our Redistricting "Issue" page to read more about the process in Michigan. The League is committed to redistricting reform in Michigan and to working to form a diverse coalition. Using the attached Power Point presentation, League members are travelling around the state educating voters about the redistricting problems in our state and the need for an Independent Commission. If you represent a group that would like a presentation by a LWV speaker, please contact the League of Women Voters of Michigan's state office at 517-484-5383.
|LINE 5 PIPELINES: AN AVOIDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK
The League of Women Voters of Michigan is one of 21 members of the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition that sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ("MDEQ") and the US Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps") on June 29, 2017 regarding Enbridge Oil Company’s joint application to the MDEQ and the Corps (No. 2RD-DFDK-Y35G) to install 22 anchor supports on the Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits. The Coalition members are Michigan organizations dedicated to the protection of Michigan’s water, natural resources, public trust in those resources, the environment, communities, and the health, safety and general welfare of citizens.
The Coalition organizations are requesting that MDEQ and the Corps take the following actions with regard to Enbridge’s joint application:
1. Reject as incomplete due to its overly narrow scope of review;
2. Require a comprehensive review of Line 5 in the Straits that includes an assessment of adverse environmental impacts, risks, and feasible and prudent alternatives;
3. Temporarily terminate the transport of crude oil in the Line 5 pipelines during this comprehensive review; and
4. Hold a formal public hearing given that Enbridge Line 5 occupies publicly owned waters and bottomlands and the threat of a catastrophic oil pipeline rupture to the Great Lakes are of tremendous controversy and have generated an extraordinary level of public engagement. Read the entire letter here.
Under-the-Straits tour of Pipeline 5 (3 min. video)
Area businesses expressing concern about Pipeline 5 (3 min video)
|ADVOCATING WITH THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS: WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1. Join the LWV
a. Connect with people who share your democratic values
b. Share in decision making and work
c. Know you are a part of bigger coalitions
2. Learn About Issues
a. Improve your general knowledge of issues – learn from others
b. Focus on issues important to you – Share your knowledge
c. View issues from a broader perspective – respect people’s right to different viewpoints
3. Strengthen our Voice & Establish Relationships
4. Be Realistic – build bridges, not walls
b. Non-partisan solutions
5. Stay Positive
a. Hard work needs positivity – remember to have some fun
b. Avoid burnout - take time for yourself & your loved ones
|THE LEAGUE ADVOCATES FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT
|The advocacy arm of the League of Women Voters of Michigan is hard at work. We monitor legislation as it is introduced and makes its way through the legislature. We also review proposed regulations which may impact environmental or public policies. Using state or national League positions, the Michigan League takes action when possible. Letters to the governor, legislators and other decision makers are routinely sent by President Judy Karandjeff, and when allowed, the League also delivers testimony at public hearings. This year, the League's advocacy has been focused on legislation concerning voting rights, environmental issues and the Flint water crisis. Check out our coverage of recent advocacy by reviewing a list of letters, press releases and testimony here.
|THE GOAL: BECOMING A TOP TEN EDUCATION STATE
The Education Trust- Midwest, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization, has published their 2
016 Michigan State of Eduction Report. Titled, "Michigan’s
Talent Crisis:The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan's Broken Public Education System." The report deals with steps to reach the goal of becoming a top ten education state. Today, Michigan's K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In a little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. This is a devestating fall. Read the annual report here.
|CURRENT LWVMI NEWSLETTER
|Click here to read the February, 2018 Newsletter.