Michigan ballot measures will secure voting and reproductive rights

BY: Cameron Harrison| July 15, 2022
Michigan ballot measures will secure voting and reproductive rights


All across the United States, the Republican Party and their corporate backers are moving in lock-step to attack the basic democratic voting rights of US citizens. The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) has been calling on the working class and democratic forces in this country to organize and mobilize to defend the right to vote. The GOP is aiming to control all branches of government by an ultra-right minority. Once secured, these sharks seek to step up the attacks on workers, their unions, and the oppressed. They want to drive a wedge between different sections of the American working class and prevent the majority from uniting all working people and carving out our own political path to push forward progress.

It may seem as though the extreme right is advancing, and rapidly at that. However, we must not fall into hopelessness and despair. When the masses of working people unite around common self-interests and advance these interests in whatever avenue we deem necessary in struggle, a tidal wave is formed and the forces of history progress onward.

In the state of Michigan, voters in November will have the opportunity to cement long-fought-for democratic rights and express their political power as a majority.

Volunteers and organizers recently completed a petition drive to place on the November ballot a measure that will enshrine the right to vote in the state constitution.

On July 11, the “Promote the Vote” coalition delivered 669,972 citizen signatures to the Michigan Secretary of State, far surpassing the threshold (by roughly 250,000) needed to get the initiative on the ballot this November. This was the result of thousands of organizers and volunteers collecting signatures in neighborhoods, at street fairs and rallies, and outside grocery stores this spring and summer. Nearly 30 partner organizations united around the campaign.

The “Promote the Vote” ballot measure seeks to implement election reforms that, according to the coalition, would “increase voting access for all Michiganders, ensure election integrity, expand early voting, minimize political interference from the state parties, and more.” And this is right in line with what the majority of Michiganders want for their electoral system.

Additionally, the “Reproductive Freedom For All” ballot initiative, which seeks to enshrine reproductive rights in the Michigan state constitution, turned in even more signatures (753,759). It was the most signatures ever gathered for a petition initiative in the state of Michigan. The reproductive rights ballot measure, if passed, will be the first in the U.S. to guarantee constitutional protections for reproductive healthcare.

According to a recent poll, the majority of Michiganders support an increase in early voting and other election reforms. Among those surveyed, 69.4% support a proposal to allow seven days of Election Day-style early voting hours, including the weekend before the General Election. And 47.8% of voters strongly support this proposal, while only 18.6% strongly oppose this proposal. Moreover, 71.7% support a proposal to allow local clerks to verify and process absentee ballots during the seven-day early voting period to help ensure final results can be called sooner on or after Election Day. The report goes on to note that “even ‘Trump Republicans’ support this proposal by a margin of 57.1%-32.3%.” Also significant was the fact that 73.5% of polled voters thought it was “time to move on from the 2020 election and focus on the future.”

These revelations stand in stark contrast to the ultra-right, Jim Crow-style electoral “reforms” proposed by the Republican Party in an effort to curb “voter fraud.” Following the 2020 elections, in which the fascists in the GOP declared the election was stolen (despite no evidence and hundreds of investigations), the Michigan Senate Republicans introduced a 39-bill package  which sought to restrict access to voting that would undoubtedly impact working-class and oppressed communities the harshest. They even spearheaded their own ballot initiative, dubbed “Secure MI Vote.”

During a state-wide televised primary debate for the November gubernatorial race, when asked whether the 2020 election was stolen, all four GOP candidates said in one way or another that the election was indeed “stolen” from Donald Trump. None of them provided any evidence.

One of the four, far-right candidate Ryan Kelley, is being investigated for his role in the January 6th coup attempt. Kelley stated that he believes “the 2020 election in the state of Michigan was fraudulent and it was stolen from President Trump.”

Another candidate, Kevin Rinke, a wealthy businessman and demagogue, stated that “there is no question that there was fraud (in the 2020 elections).” Rinke’s claim to win the GOP mantle is that only he can restore “greatness” to the state of Michigan.

Despite the attempts of the extreme right, the majority of Michiganders will have an opportunity to further put their mark on history and vote to adopt the voting rights and reproductive rights ballot measures. While voting is not the only avenue for working-class political expression (there are boycotts, demonstrations, walk-outs, strikes, sit-ins, civil disobedience, etc.), it is imperative that progressive forces work together to protect existing democratic rights and expand on them.

Indeed, as the CPUSA Political Action Commission stated,

Our entire history has seen the struggle to expand the right to vote move from one battle to the next. And as long as the Electoral College exists, there is no such thing as “one person, one vote” in the country. These struggles and gains have been hard-fought, costing many lives and much bloodshed.

Ballot initiatives such as “Promote the Vote” and “Reproductive Rights For All” in Michigan are some of the more democratic ways of expressing working-class will in our current electoral system. These measures rely on the people themselves to initiate and ultimately pass. It is more in line with majority approval and “one person, one vote” than any other feature in our present bourgeois democracy.

Certainly, even if these ballot proposals are passed in November, the struggle for more democracy in Michigan will not be over. As long as working people are subject to the capitalist economic system, in which the capitalists control the economy (and thus the political system), for the working class, there will always be a struggle.

Images:  Voting rights rally, Promote the Vote 2022 (Twitter); Volunteers deliver signed petitions to put voting rights on the ballot in November, PTV22 (Twitter); Protect Our Democracy, PTV22 (Twitter).


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