Michigan Democrats Move to Block Republican Voter Suppression Efforts

Terrell Jermaine Starr
·3 min read
Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist speaks to the audience attending the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist speaks to the audience attending the Democratic Presidential Debate at the Fox Theatre July 31, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist is calling on congressional Democrats to pass federal legislation that will counter GOP efforts at the state level to limit access to the ballot box.

Gilchrist is urging members of Congress to pass the HR 1 bill, known as the For the People Act, which addresses voting rights, campaign finance and ethics rules. The roadblock may get stuck in the Senate unless Democrats eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold so that it can pass with a simple majority. Meanwhile, Michigan Republicans have already introduced 39 voting bills that will impose new restrictions.

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“The federal legislation is certainly an important tool in the toolbox because it will, I think, set up protections for voters across the board,” Gilchrist said.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will most certainly veto any anti-voting bill Republicans send to her desk. But they’ll likely try and sidestep her by using a law that allows the legislature to pass measures without the governor’s signature by gathering 340,000 signatures.

President Joe Biden won the state by a slim margin in 2020. Republicans immediately made false claims that mass election fraud took place. None of them were proven true.

Here is more on what Gilchrist is saying about Michigan Republicans’ efforts from CNN:

Gilchrist and other Democrats have characterized Republicans’ actions as racist. Experts have said the restrictive voting measures GOP lawmakers are advancing across the nation disproportionately affect minority communities, and Gilchrist said the Republican proposals would be especially punitive in cities like Detroit and Flint, with large Black populations.

“When we saw the attempt to undermine the integrity of the results in Michigan, we saw very targeted attempts to really question and challenge what happened in the city of Detroit, the biggest city with the most voters in our state,” he said. “I think it’s also clear that you know, Republicans in Michigan have been working for a long time to try to limit access to voting for Black voters in Michigan, many of whom live in the city of Detroit like I do.”

Republicans responded to Gilchrist’s comments by accusing him of “coarsening the debate over voting reform with reckless claims of racism.”

“An overwhelming majority of Americans — and Black Americans — favor voter ID to ensure the security of our elections,” said Ted Goodman, communications director for the Michigan Republican Party. “Even the Democrat Party requires ID to vote in their state party conventions.”

It is important to note that Detroit, where most Black people live in Michigan and is the Blackest city in America, was the primary target for false Republican voter claims. Also at issue are the two other female Democrats who hold key statewide seats: Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both of whom are up for reelection next year.

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Ron Weiser—who is driving the racist voter restrictions to be implemented in time for the 2022 election—said in a speech last week that Whitmer, Benson and Nessel were “three witches” and said Republicans should make sure “they are ready for burning at the stake.”

In short, the Republican effort to cheat themselves to victory is gaining traction in the Midwest.