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Bridge expands again, partners with Votebeat for Michigan election coverage

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Bridge Michigan is expanding again, announcing a partnership Thursday with the nonpartisan news site Votebeat to produce year-round reporting on Michigan’s election administration and voting process.

The partnership continues a year of growth at Bridge, following surveys that indicated readers want more coverage of the state Capitol and education. Since January, Bridge has hired a third state government and politics reporter, as well as a statewide school policy reporter and a general-assignment reporter.


Votebeat is a news site created by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news site that covers public education in several communities including Detroit. Bridge and Chalkbeat Detroit already share an education reporter, Tracie Mauriello, and Bridge collaborated with Votebeat for three months in 2020 to provide award-winning, fact-based coverage of the aftermath of the presidential election.

“The partnership with Votebeat continues our commitment to provide readers with the deepest — and most aggressively nonpartisan — coverage of policy in Michigan,” said Joel Kurth, Bridge Michigan managing editor.

“We are delighted to partner with Votebeat to dig deep into how elections work in Michigan to help demystify a process that is so vital to democracy.”

As part of the partnership, Oralandar Brand-Williams will cover Michigan elections administration for Votebeat and Bridge. She worked for nearly 30 years at The Detroit News as a reporter and also was an assignment editor at WDIV-TV in Detroit. Brand-Williams is a former vice president of print journalism for the Detroit chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists and a graduate of the University of Michigan. 

Oralandar Brand-Williams
Oralandar Brand-Williams comes to Votebeat and Bridge from The Detroit News.

Along with Bridge’s three state Capitol reporters, Brand-Williams will cover the process of voting, from the delivery of absentee ballots to counting boards, canvassers and machines. Her work will appear on both Bridge and Votebeat’s sites.

The ambition of her beat is to educate readers with fact-based reporting on the mechanics of voting, rather the hyperbole of politicians or poll-driven reporting that Bridge avoids.

“The act of voting has become politicized, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Through our partnership, we’ll produce the kind of coverage that really matters to the voters in Michigan — the truth about how their local electoral system works, whether it works for them, and whether they have a fair chance to participate,” said Chad Lorenz, editor in chief of Votebeat.


In addition to Brand-Williams, Votebeat has hired reporters to cover elections in Pennsylvania and Arizona and Texas. 

“I’m excited to become part of a news organization and journalism partnership aimed at reporting on barriers to the ballot box and commend Votebeat for taking on this important issue,” said Brand-Williams. “My inspiration for joining Votebeat is the opportunity to educate and inspire voters to take part in fair elections, a hard-fought cornerstone of this country’s democratic ideals. I’m looking forward, through my work at Votebeat, to giving voters a voice as well as engaging them by reporting and writing balanced news stories that also dispel misinformation around voting and elections.” 

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