Voting is broken in Michigan

September 26, 2018

From the September-October 2018 issue of News & Letters

Voting in Michigan is flawed: from unequal funding for candidates, incomprehensible language in ballot proposals and suspicious vote-counting, to barriers to accessibility. Below are just a few voters’ experiences, beginning with the 2016 election.

  • “The National Federation of the Blind of Michigan tried to work with the State Board of Elections to develop and use accessible voting machines. The machine my precinct uses has a different size ballot from the regular voting machines. As the only blind voter in my precinct, my ballot is not secret, especially because the voting official couldn’t turn off the display screen. The poor woman struggled—unsuccessfully—to cover it with a piece of paper.”
  • “The voting official at my precinct told me I could not help my mother in the voting booth, so she did not vote. I found out later that they were wrong.”
  • “I worked the polls in 2016. One young voting official kept telling voters to choose Hillary, and the supervisor did not correct him. He also took a two-hour lunch break, which deprived me of mine, again without reprimand. Another official refused to let a woman vote, insisting that the records showed her as dead. (After 45 minutes on hold, I finally telephoned headquarters, which cleared up the mistake.)”
  • “As we were finally dismissed for the day, it was announced on the radio that Michigan had gone for Trump. I know that at the very least the five precincts at my location had not yet been counted.”
  • “How could Betty Jean Alexander have won the August primary for District 10 Michigan state representative? No one in Detroit (half of her territory) knew of her, had seen her campaign or received a single piece of literature. Her opponent was incumbent Senator David Knezek, a young progressive Iraq war veteran who stood up for us in the legislature and came out to our (Black) community frequently, not just at election time.”

All these events may not be officially defined as voter suppression, but the whole system is so rotten that voter disenfranchisement is widespread. This in turn discourages voter participation and resistance, especially among the youngest voters. Elections don’t create social revolution, but their erosion can certainly lead to an increasingly authoritarian society.

Marxist-Humanists and friends


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