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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Letter: Michigan voting bills not helping

By Valorie Troesch*

To the editor:

Thirty-nine bills were recently introduced in the Michigan Senate that will suppress voting rights, all done under the false premise -- aka "The Big Lie" -- of securing elections in a state where there has not been a single documented and verified instance of individual or voting machine fraud. Republicans created a phantom problem in order to pass legislation designed to curb voter turnout.

Michigan is not alone. These types of bills are being passed in Republican-controlled legislatures across the country and are targeted to make voting more difficult, especially for minority populations. However, if Senator McBroom -- who co-sponsored some of these bills -- wants to honestly represent the best interests of his constituents in Michigan’s rural western Upper Peninsula, he will exercise independent judgment and not follow in lock-step with Michigan Senate Republicans. The best interests of McBroom’s constituents are in direct opposition to what these bills will do.

For example, Senate Bill 285 will require that voters present an original or a copy of a specific type of photo ID to the clerk in order to request an absentee ballot. Think about what this means. An elderly person living in a rural area who cannot drive and who wants to vote by absentee ballot will now have to figure out how to get this ID and how to make a photocopy of it to submit with a mailed-in application for an absentee ballot. Alternatively, that voter will have to either mail in the original ID or go in person to apply for the absentee ballot. This all flies in the face of the rationale for absentee voting in the first place -- to help enfranchise voters who cannot easily leave their homes.

Senate Bill 287 will remove prepaid postage for absentee ballots and require voters to pay their own postage. On its face, this may seem fair, but this is a risky provision. In the November 2020 election, absentee ballots in their envelopes weighed slightly more than one ounce, greater than the allowed weight covered by a single first-class stamp. Voters who wrongly assume that one stamp will always cover the postage risk having their ballots not delivered by Postmaster General DeJoy’s USPS and, thus, not counted. Pre-paid postage negates this risk and is a common-sense solution.

In their overzealousness to tamp down minority voting, Republican legislators -- especially in the Upper Peninsula -- will needlessly disenfranchise their own constituents.**

Editor's Notes:

* Valorie Troesch, author of this letter, is a Copper Country resident.

** Voters Not Politicians (VNP) of Michigan will hold a virtual Voter Suppression Resistance Update w/ Letter Writing Workshop at 7 p.m. EDT TONIGHT, Wednesday, March 31. You can join from anywhere by registering here. VNP will present a statewide volunteer update on Senate Bill package 273 - 309 and the Rescue Michigan plan. Immediately following is a letter-writing workshop with tips for messaging your representatives on this important issue.

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