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Today on Stateside, a conversation with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) about making mental health accessible and the future of the Senate under President-elect Biden. Plus, a look at the history of some notable Black Michiganders—from the pre-Civil War era to the suffrage movement.

Polling station sign
user jaina / Creative Commons

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel say it’s not too late to reinstate a ban on openly carrying guns at or near polling places on Election Day.

They are appealing a court ruling that struck down a directive from Benson that banned open carry in and near polling places on Election Day.

U.S. Senate

With the presidential election only a week away, Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) campaigned at a handful of drive-in events in Metro Detroit Sunday.

Harris barnstormed from Detroit’s suburbs to the city itself saying the stakes are too high in this election for voters to just stay home as some Democrats did in 2016.

straight-party voting
Lars Plougmann

More than half of the three million requested absentee ballots have already been cast, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

Benson said that voters have received nearly all of the three million absentee ballots they have requested with two weeks left to go before Election Day. 

"When you reflect on the fact that just under 4.8 million voted in the November 2016 election, the fact that two weeks out, already three million are on track to vote early in this election is just extraordinary," said Benson, predicting that the number of absentee ballot requests will continue to climb.

person dropping absentee ballot into ballot box
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Election Day is now just two weeks away and Monday was the last day for Michiganders to register to vote.

Any eligible Michigan voter can register online or by mail

If you are not registered by the end of Monday, you can still register in-person at your city or township clerk's office through Election Day. When you register in-person, you can also request to vote early, fill out your ballot, and return it all in one visit.

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Secretary of State's office says people who want to be poll watchers or challengers have to abide by the rules. 

Spokesperson Tracy Wimmer says a poll watcher is exactly that: just someone who heads over to a polling place and observes what's going on. They're basically just a fly on the wall, and can't interfere with voting or the workers. 

There are also rules for people challenging someone's right to vote.  

A maks on top of an absentee ballot envelope
Unsplash

In the middle of a pandemic, a lot of voters are planning to cast their vote via absentee ballot. It's a fairly simple process (which you can learn more about here). You fill out your ballot, put it in the mail, track it to your local clerk’s office where it will be counted come Election Day. But between November 2018 and August 2020, the ACLU of Michigan says there were around 35,000 people who thought they had voted, but actually had their absentee ballots rejected. The organization has been sending letters out to those voters to let them know what went wrong, and how to avoid it this time around. 

Unsplash

During the first debate between President Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, President Trump raised questions about the safety and integrity of elections this November. But Michigan clerks and election officials have said for months now that they have no such fears--rather, their primary concern is whether they can produce results in a timely manner on Election Day, as the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a significant increase in absentee voting.

a black and white portrait of Charlotte "Lottie" Wilson
Michigan History Center

One hundred years ago in August, the 19th amendment guaranteed women the right to vote. But not all women benefitted equally. Voting was—and still is—more difficult for people of color due to voter suppression and disenfranchisement. While many of the most well-known suffragettes are white, Black women were also fighting for equal voting rights. Michigander Charlotte "Lottie" Wilson was one of them. 

Polling station sign
user jaina / Creative Commons

The Michigan Court of Appeals has granted a motion for immediate consideration in a lawsuit filed by three Detroit residents, seeking to force the Michigan Secretary of State and Michigan Elections Director to train Detroit's city clerk and its election workers.

The lawsuit was filed after serious problems occurred in the city's August primary. The count in 46% of Detroit precincts did not match the number of ballots in poll books. That means they could not have been  recounted in the event of a recount. 

someone writing on a ballot
Michael Dorausch / Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, a researcher at University of Michigan has looked at data surrounding fatalities caused by police, and how those lethal uses of force break along racial and gender lines. And, a conversation with a brother and sister confronting a global pandemic on opposite sides of a prison wall. Plus, a talk with Senator Gary Peters about a bill introduced by House Democrats to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing.

(Subscribe to Stateside on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or with this RSS link)

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below.

Illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Today on Stateside, people around the state are casting their votes in the presidential primary and for more than 200 local ballot initiatives. We'll hear about turnout and tabulation, and what makes a teenager want to work a 13-hour day at the polls. Plus, we talk to the Michigan's chief medical officer about the state's capacity to test people for COVID-19. 

People holding signs advocating for the Voters Not Politicians ballot initiative that was passed last November.
Photo courtesy of Voters Not Politicians

In 2018, Michiganders voted to pass Proposal 2, a redistricting amendment that would create an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional district maps. Voters Not Politicians, the nonprofit organization that collected signatures to get the amendment on the ballot, is now taking steps to form that commission.

Prior to Prop 2, whichever party was in control in Lansing was responsible for drawing district maps.

Voting sign.
flickr user justgrimes / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This year, more than 7 million Michigan residents are registered to vote, and midterm election turnout is expected to be the highest in years.

But what should you expect on Election Day?

"Vote here" sign
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Wayne County is switching up the way it will report real-time results for Tuesday’s election. Officials say the county will bypass its usual website because of performance concerns.

The Grand Rapids-based company ElectionSource has hosted Wayne County’s interactive election reporting website since 2017.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In a letter to clerks across the state, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan urged them to make sure voters and poll workers understand that picture identification is not required to cast a ballot.

The civil liberties group says it regularly receives complaints from registered voters who have been incorrectly informed they must have picture ID to vote, and this misinformation can deter or prevent their voting.

Ballots
Flicker / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state's voting system needs to be improved to ensure that overseas military ballots are received on time and counted, according to Jocelyn Benson, Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State.

Benson unveiled her military voting plan Tuesday, as part of her pledge "to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

The Wayne County Board of Canvassers heard what went wrong with the county’s election results website last Tuesday, as questions and concerns linger about problems with the Aug. 7 primary election.

hand holding I VOTED sticker
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michiganders flocked to the polls Tuesday in numbers that haven’t been matched in recent decades.

It’s primary Election Day in Michigan.

The races for governor, Congress, and the state Legislature all saw tough and divisive battles among candidates on both sides of the aisle. 

To see how voting is going around the state, we talked to a few of the people on the front lines: county clerks.

political yard signs
Scorpians and Centaurs / Flickr

Next Tuesday is primary election day in Michigan. That means come Wednesday, it’s time for general election campaigns.

But, how does a candidate actually win? What strategy will get them from primary winner to governor or attorney general or county drain commissioner?

An absentee ballot in an envelope.
Nadya Peek / Flickr

Replacement absentee ballots were sent out to hundreds of voters in Kalamazoo County this week after a mistake was discovered on the original forms.

MLive reported that ballots sent to voters in four Schoolcraft Township precincts and one Portage precinct listed candidates running for Michigan’s 63rd House of Representatives district race instead of the 61st district.

Vote Here sign
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Michigan's primary election is Tuesday, and already this year's vote has garnered a lot of attention.

Ballots
Flicker / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


Last week, two more business organizations formally launched challenges to proposals headed for the ballot this November. 

 

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

There is just over a month to go before Michigan’s primary elections on August 7th. 

Polling place
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

 


The Pew Research Center recently released a report on midterm voting that found more voters are engaged earlier this election year.

“Compared with recent midterms, more voters say their view of the president – positive or negative – will influence their vote for Congress," the report said. “A 60 percent majority say they consider their midterm vote as essentially a vote either for Donald Trump (26 percent) or against him (34 percent). These are among the highest shares saying their view of the president would be a factor in their vote in any midterm in more than three decades.”

justgrimes / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Voters’ rights groups are gathering signatures for a constitutional amendment to make registering to vote easier in Michigan. The “Promote the Vote” campaign is being backed by several groups including the League of Women Voters of Michigan.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It may soon be easier to register to vote in Michigan.

Nine in ten people eligible to vote in Michigan are already registered. Most registered when they got a driver’s license or state identification card.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wants to allow people to register to vote online through the state’s existing Express SOS software program.

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A ballot campaign will begin collecting signatures to add a voting rights amendment to the state constitution.

The effort is backed by the ACLU, the League of Women Voters, and the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

The ACLU’s Kary Moss says the proposal would allow early voting and make it easier for people to vote absentee.

“If somebody wants to vote absentee, they have to be over 60 years old, they have to have an excuse," Moss said. "This proposal would allow for no-excuse absentee voting.”

Vote Here sign
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

A petition drive hopes to put a voters’ rights amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot.

The amendment would let people vote absentee without giving a reason. It would allow early voting. And it would guarantee the right to vote a party-line ticket with one mark on the ballot. 

“We need to make sure that voting is accessible to all citizens and that everyone’s vote gets counted,” said Judy Karendjeff with the League of Women Voters.

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