Using state-of-the-art voting machines wouldn’t have changed the controversial results of Michigan’s presidential election last fall, according to Detroit and state election officials. But new digital machines unveiled Saturday — to about 1,200 volunteer supervisors of Detroit’s polling sites — won’t suffer the frequent breakdowns of the old machines, causing lines to back up with impatient voters, and soon will be used statewide, officials said. “At the end of the day, we all have one goal, right? To ensure that every person that wants to vote gets to vote and we count that vote accurately,” Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey told the poll workers. In an event billed as an equipment fair, Winfrey and her staff showed off the new, $4,000 voting tabulators to noisy, curious crowds of election volunteers who gathered — one group in the morning, another in the afternoon — at Wayne County Community College in downtown Detroit.
Articles about voting issues in Michigan.
Kevin Deegan-Krause held up an oddly shaped Lego creation last week and asked a crowd of about 150 people in Plymouth, “Can a creepy lizard threaten democracy?” His red and blue depiction of the sprawling 14th Congressional District didn’t look like a creepy lizard. His son thinks it looks like a saxophone, while his daughter says it resembles an assault rifle — even including an open spot for a trigger where Farmington has been carved out of the district. The Lego blocks may not look like the Massachusetts congressional district drawn in 1812 that spawned the term gerrymander — that district looked like a salamander and was combined with the name of the Massachusetts governor at the time, Elbridge Gerry. But Deegan-Krause’s teaching tool is a pretty accurate representation of the 14th Congressional District and a classic example of how gerrymandering is happening in Michigan.
Michigan: Supreme Court could decide if Emergency Manager law violates Voting Rights Act | MLive.com
Attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case challenging Michigan’s emergency manager law, contending Flint’s water crisis now stands as evidence for “what happens when the government is allowed to run our communities based only on the ‘bottom line.’ “In filing a petition for a Writ of Certiorari Friday, March 31, Ann Arbor attorney and professor Samuel R. Bagenstos claims the emergency manager law is racially discriminatory and deprives citizens of their rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The effort to allow any Michigan voter to request an absentee ballot may be close to critical mass in the state Senate. That’s as more Republicans are accepting the idea that anyone who wants to mail in or drop off their ballot should be allowed to without having to lie to do it. The rule right now in Michigan is that, unless you’re a senior citizen, physically handicapped or expect to be out of town on Election Day, you’re expected to show up at the polls on Election Day. So, right now, people who want to vote absentee but don’t fit into one of those categories are just lying. “We are talking about a small change to encourage people, not to have to lie, whether or not they’ll be in town. I think it just encourages people to get out there,” Republican state Senator Wayne Schmidt told It’s Just Politics. Schmidt is sponsoring a bill to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan.
The ban on so-called ‘ballot selfies’ in Michigan is resurfacing with the introduction of a new proposal that would allow voters to use their cell phones or other cameras to take pictures of their ballots or themselves with their ballots in a polling place. Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, introduced the proposal which has bi-partisan support in the Legislature. “Around the country, people increasingly are sharing pictures of their ballot as a way to show support for candidates and issues,” Johnson said in a statement, adding that 20 other states currently allow ‘ballot selfies.’
The Secretary of State’s office finalized its contract to replace the state’s ailing voting machines with new equipment in time for the August 2018 primaries. The Board of State Canvassers on Tuesday approved a plan the State Administrative Board previously authorized. It could grant vendors up to $82.1 million over the next 10 years to replace the state’s voting machines with new optical scanners expected to be up and running by August 2018. The new machines still use paper ballots, so not much changes for voters in the polling booth, said state Elections Director Chris Thomas. But the new technology will make things easier for election workers by setting up a statewide repository showing results all in one place. “The voters themselves are not gonna notice a whole lot,” Thomas said. “Just to have a statewide repository for all elections – it just doesn’t exist right now. It’s a big step forward. No question.”
The state has found no evidence of voter fraud after auditing 136 Detroit precincts that couldn’t be recounted after the November election. Chris Thomas, the Secretary of State’s director of elections, said there were problems with the performance of staff at the precincts where the ballots couldn’t be recounted either because the numbers in poll books didn’t match the number of ballots in the box or because some ballot boxes were improperly sealed. “There was no pervasive fraud found in our audit of Detroit. We did not find widespread voting machine problems,” Thomas said at a news conference Thursday. “We did find widespread performance issues that tracked back to the training by the Detroit city clerk.”
Michigan Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas called Thursday for a change in state law to make recounts easier after Detroit’s election night counting problems. The Michigan Bureau of Elections audited 136 of the city’s most irregular precincts — “the worst of the worst,” it said — after a Wayne County canvass revealed “significant discrepancies” in the number of voters and ballots in 392 Detroit precincts. After an extensive review, it was able to narrow nearly 600 uncounted-for votes to 216. “I think the time has come for at least a consideration of that,” Thomas said at a press conference following the release of an audit that concluded that discrepancies between the recorded number of votes and actual ballots cast in Detroit were the result of human error. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein requested a statewide recount that was stopped after nearly 40 percent of Michigan’s precincts were retallied because state and federal courts ruled she had no chance of winning, and thus wasn’t an “aggrieved” candidate under state law.
Michigan: Democrats preparing a lawsuit over ‘rigged’ redistricting system in Michigan | Michigan Radio
Letters are being sent to some 60 attorneys, legislators and ex-legislators, staffers and ex-staffers, Governor Rick Snyder, and many others, telling them: Anything you have related to the 2011 redistricting process, you better keep it. We’re talking drafts of maps, emails, instructions, and confidential analysis. This is in anticipation of a lawsuit on behalf of Democratic voters in Michigan to challenge Congressional and Legislative district lines. The lawsuit will argue that the maps we have right now are an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment rights. “They are rigged in favor of Republican candidates at both the legislative and congressional levels,” former Michigan Democratic Party chair Mark Brewer told It’s Just Politics. Brewer, a lawyer, is preparing the lawsuit. “Democrats consistently take a majority or a near-majority of the votes in those bodies, but do not take a majority or a near-majority of the seats.” This has been an argument that Democrats in Michigan have been making for awhile.
Former Michigan Democratic Party chairman and attorney Mark Brewer is preparing to sue state officials over what he alleges is an “unconstitutional partisan gerrymander” that has helped Republicans consolidate power but minimized the voice of Democratic voters he will represent. The pending lawsuit seeks to build on a recent federal court ruling in Wisconsin, where a three-judge panel ruled in a 2-1 decision that the state’s Republican-led Legislature crafted a plan for political district boundaries that “systematically dilutes the voting strength of Democratic voters statewide.” The U.S. District Court panel last week ordered Wisconsin to redraw its maps ahead of the 2018 election, but the state is expected to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Our clients believe that the current Michigan legislative and congressional redistricting plans are similarly flawed,” Brewer wrote this week in a letter he said he sent to roughly 60 state legislators, staffers and other officials involved in redrawing district boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.