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Opinion | Democracy in Michigan is under attack by GOP petition drive

Anybody thinking that democracy isn’t under attack – literally – in America and Michigan isn’t paying attention.

In an apparently coordinated national effort, a group of Michigan political extremists led by Michigan Republican Party Co-Chair Meshawn Maddock signed documents saying they were “duly elected and qualified electors” to deliver Michigan’s Electoral College votes for Donald Trump – even though Joe Biden won the state by 154,000 votes. This is election fraud and deserves to be treated quickly and harshly by our justice system.

Nancy Wang
Nancy Wang is executive director of Voters Not Politicians. (Courtesy photo)

We now have revelations about the mis-named “Oath Keepers” stockpiling guns to prepare to shoot their way into the Capitol to stop the constitutionally mandated peaceful transfer of power to President Joe Biden on Jan. 6, 2021 – an eerie reminiscence of Michigan in early 2020, when men in military gear carrying assault rifles marched into the Michigan Capitol to intimidate lawmakers.

Add to that the current campaign to mislead Michigan voters into signing a petition that would make it much harder for voters to cast absentee ballots and would cancel the ability of civic-minded individuals and foundations to donate to underfunded townships and cities for secure drop boxes and much-needed election staff, and you have a perfect storm of anti-democracy action facing our state and nation.

Voters Not Politicians, which drafted and helped pass the amendment to the Michigan Constitution that restored democracy to our state’s redistricting process by putting citizens, not politicians, in control of redistricting, is fighting back to defend democracy against the growing move toward autocracy.

In a recent news conference, VNP provided video evidence of paid out-of-state petition signature collectors lying to Michigan voters to get signatures for the effort to suppress the vote in our state. They are telling voters that signing the petition will put the issues on the ballot. Untrue. A signature puts the voter suppression issue in front of our Legislature to approve without input from our Governor.

The petition gatherers are giving varied explanations about the proposal, avoiding mention that registered voters, including senior citizens, will have to provide private data such as driver license numbers on their applications to obtain an absentee ballot. Texas recently passed similar legislation, and now thousands of absentee applications of properly registered voters are being rejected due to inadvertent errors and omissions by voters.

The funders of the petition campaign, most prominently Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser and secret donors gathered by Sen. Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, have apparently decided power is more important than integrity or ethics of their paid circulators.

Voters Not Politicians is confronting those petition gatherers who lie to Michiganders. We are providing voters facts as they consider whether to sign. And all of this comes after state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, issued a report that clearly states there was no widespread fraud found in his committee’s months-long review of the election complaints.

If you value democracy and the right of the majority to elect representatives for the Legislature and Congress, you need to stand up now and be prepared to fight, with your voice, your votes and with a presence around the state.

If you see petitioners seeking to mislead voters to get a signature that will take away options from duly registered voters to cast ballots securely, speak out. Get ready to vote, in large numbers, in August and November.

Question the candidates for Congress and the Legislature about where they stand on these matters. Ask if they support the 16 who sought to steal an election, or believe they should be punished for their election fraud. Ask your candidates if they believe we should make it harder for duly registered voters to cast ballots.

Our state Constitution reminds us, “All political power is inherent in the people.” Forces are coming together to deny power to the people. Only if we, the people, use our power, can we ensure a democracy for years to come.

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