PEG 12th Congressional District
Newsletter #207. Thursday, April 1, 2021
Georgia GOP successfully restricts voter rights
On March 25, Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed Georgia State Senate Bill 202 into law after hastily pushing it through both GOP-led legislative houses. Georgia, long guilty of voter suppression tactics that disproportionately impact voters of color, is officially in the throes of what local activists call “Jim Crow 2.0.” According to Forbes, the sweeping bill outlines numerous new constraints, such as curtailing the amount of — and thus access to — ballot drop boxes, shortening the early voting period and prohibiting non-poll workers from giving food or water to voters waiting in line. In some districts that implies going from over 30 drop boxes to 9. 

The New York Times additionally reports that the new law expands state legislature oversight into district election policy and strips the Secretary of State of duties overseeing elections. One of the most disturbing events in conjunction with the new statute is that state democratic representatives were forbidden access to the signing and announcement made by Gov. Kemp, with Rep. Park Cannon (D) even being arrested for knocking on the governor’s office door.

The New Georgia Project — which was founded by activist and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — along with the Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise, Inc. filed a lawsuit against state election officials the evening of March 25 in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. The suit seeks injunctive action to block the new election restrictions which the plaintiffs have termed the “Voter Suppression Bill.” In the week since, there have been other lawsuits from the GA-NAACP and the ACLU. 

Georgia is not alone in its constricting pursuit; it’s actually the second state to pass into law voting obstructions. In response to the 2020 election and the persistent untruthful protestations of fraudulent voting, the GOP is making a nationwide push to impinge voting rights. Iowa has already signed into law the abbreviation of the time to return absentee ballots and shortened all poll hours. On March 24 Republican lawmakers in Michigan introduced a package of 39 election bills. They include a clamp down on ballot drop box hours, require voters to provide photo ID when applying for an absentee ballot, block unsolicited absentee ballot applications from being mailed out en masse, and ban prepaid postage for absentee ballots.

In fact, 43 states are pushing 253 pieces of legislation in an effort to implement new voting barriers. These barriers either restrict access to ballots, establish stricter voter purging techniques, or interfere with district-based election processes. These strictures take advantage of the protection gap left between the 2013 undermining of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the yet-to-pass For the People Act of 2021. 

Even if all the state bills do not pass, it will take a federal mandate to override the harmful suppression laws that do pass. The U.S. Senate is in a position to curtail the profusion of voting rights restrictions and restore protections as it considers the For the People Act. However, to date, it remains to be seen if the bill will cross President Biden’s desk.
Extreme voter suppression is coming to Michigan
The GOP-led state legislature proposed a package of bills (SB273-311) to restrict Michigan citizens’ right to vote. Their 39 bills would make it difficult to cast a ballot. Here is a partial list of what these bills aim to do:
  • Limit dropbox usage and require all absentee ballots to be delivered directly to clerks. It would also make it more difficult for a voter to have someone deliver their ballot for them. (SB 286 McBroom, R-Vulcan)
  • Prohibit the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballot applications or offering pre-paid postage for their return. (SB 310, Johnson)
  • Prohibit by cities, townships, and the Secretary of State from providing prepaid postage for absentee voter ballot return envelopes. (SB 287 Stamas, R-Midland)
  • Require voters to submit a physical copy of state-issued identification with an absentee ballot application or face demotion to provisional status (SB 285 Theiss, R-Brighton)
  • Require clerks to complete the vote count by noon the day after an election. This would disenfranchise any voter whose ballot hasn't been counted by that deadline and place unnecessary hardship on populated areas. (SB299 Zorn, R-Monroe )
  • Require the Legislature to approve the spending of any federal election funds, essentially tying the hands of the secretary of state. (SB 289, Nesbitt R-Lawton),
  • Require at least one canvasser from each political party to be present during the canvass at all times and require that anyone hired by a political party to assist canvassing to first be approved by the board of canvassers. (SB 297, Stamas, R-Midland)
  • Reverse current law allowing voters who go to polls without ID to sign an affidavit verifying their identity and receive a regular ballot. Instead, this bill would require anyone without ID to vote a provisional ballot, requiring them to visit the clerk within days of the election to have their vote counted. SB303 (Theis, Zorn, Runestad)
 
YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED!
Voters Not Politicians (VNP) is calling for everyone to contact this targeted list of senators and ask them to support Secretary of State Benson's Advance the Vote agenda and to reject the 39-bill package.
  • Senator Lauwers (R-25) (517)-373-7708
  • Senator LaSata (R-21)(517) 373-6960
  • Senator Bizon (R-19 ) (517)-373-2426
  • Senator Barrett (R-24 ) (517)-373-3447
  • Senator Johnson (R-14 ) (517)-373-1636

Read the full piece with a possible script for calling Senators/Reps on the PEG website.
Events
Thursday, April 1. Town Hall with Rep. Donna Lasinski
State Rep. Donna Lasinski offers an update on the state legislature. It's an excellent opportunity to address community concerns, about anything happening in our state or what she's been working on in Lansing. The virtual town hall will be on Facebook Live and Zoom, passcode 288433. 7 pm
Saturday, April 3. Increasing voter turnout in Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor
There are heavily Democratic precincts in Washtenaw County, according to this voter turnout map, where fewer than half the registered voters voted in the 2020 General Election. Join a panel of Washtenaw County officials and representatives as they examine why, and also how voter turnout might be increased. Read the details and find the zoom link here. 9:30 am–noon
Tuesday, April 6. Conversations! with Ethan Kross
Conversations! will host the author of Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It, Ethan Kross, an award-winning professor at the University of Michigan and the director of the Emotion and Self Control Laboratory. He will describe how we can constructively control how we think about what happens in our life and how we can help our family and friends do the same. Chuck Newman hosts with co-host Alan Muskovitz. Join the conversation here. 7 pm

Wednesday, April 7. Michigan’s redistricting process virtual town hall
Voters Not Politicians is holding a Town Hall about Communities of Interest, their role in the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and the important process of drawing new boundaries for state and federal legislative districts with public input. This will be presented by Dr. Kevin Deegan-Krause. VNP’s focus is to ensure that historically underserved communities have the information and tools they need to participate meaningfully during the Community Mapping Phase of the new process. Visit and share VNP’s free, online toolkit and resource webpage. Register for the zoom link here. 7–8 pm
Things to do
Many of our action items encourage you to reach out to your representative(s). To find your representatives, use the following links:
State Representativewww.house.mi.gov
State Senatorsenate.michigan.gov 
Congressional representative: Federal Election Commission site at www.fec.gov
Post Office update
On March 15, the White House sent three nominations for the USPS board of governors to the Senate. The nominations were then referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Michigan Senator Gary Peters. Confirmation hearing dates have not yet been scheduled.
If confirmed to the nine-member board, "the new slate would create a Democratic advantage and potentially the votes to oust DeJoy."
Action
  • Contact your senator to vote for the slate presented by the White House
  • Follow the progress of the nominations here.
Outrage grows at Ron Weiser for his repulsive and divisive remarks
Members of the University of Michigan board of regents are calling for fellow regent Ron Weiser to resign after Weiser, chairman of the Michigan Republican Party, called the three highest ranking female elected officials in the state “witches” who should be “ready for the burning at the stake and referenced “assassination” in the context of ousting GOP congressmen. 

Although he issued an “apology,” last Friday, he did not actually apologize for his words.
To demand Weiser’s removal as a U-M regent, contact U-M President Mark S. Schlissel by email at presoff@umich.edu, or call (734) 764-6270.
DC statehood would give full rights of citizenship to 712,000 Americans — express your support
Washington, DC is a historically Black city, with Blacks being 47% of the population. And although DC’s 712,000 residents pay taxes, vote in elections, serve in the military and carry out all the responsibilities of American citizenship, they have little say in the regulation of their city; the Federal Government solely holds that power, including affecting local laws, city funding and its operations. Read more of this PEG Exclusive, written by DC native and PEG contributor, Mieko Preston.

Express your support for HR 51 and urge both U.S. Representatives and Senators to support statehood for the 712,000+ residents of Washington, DC. Watch a short clip where Congressional members show wide support for DC statehood, which has set the groundwork for the Senate and the Biden Administration’s approval.
Things to read, watch, and listen to
George Floyd murder trial quick reads
Minneapolis murder trial began Monday, March 29, for white police officer Derek Chauvin, captured on video with Black man George Floyd 46 who died. The trial is expected to take about a month.

Prosecutors show 9-min 29-sec video of murder, told jurors “believe your eyes.”
Defense attorney says the death occurred in a part of the city where residents are hostile to officers, and that Floyd died of underlying causes, not from pressure on neck. -Heather Cox Richardson Letters from an American 
  • First witness 911 dispatcher watched George Floyd die in real time while he repeated “I can’t breathe” 27 times. -Yahoo!News
  • Minnesota officers unions pay for dozen lawyers, $1M to back cop defense in Floyd trial. -USAToday
  • Frantic onlookers pleaded for George Floyd’s life with officer on his neck while another officer held back crowd trying to intervene. -Associated Press
  • Regardless of verdict in this single trial, activists eyes still firmly fixed on change to complete racial justice in the system. -Christian Science Monitor
  • Teen who recorded video of George Floyd begging for his life and eventual death at hands of police weeps as recording of his 911 call replayed in court. -Reuters
Legislation reintroduced to add protections for sexual orientation/gender identity
A Michigan bill which would expand civil rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity/expression has been reintroduced in the legislature. House Bill 4297 is sponsored by 50 Democrats and 1 Republican (Rep. Tommy Brann, R-Wyoming).
 
Currently, the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act protects people from discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status. A bipartisan effort to expand the protections in 2014 failed.
 
The group Fair and Equal Michigan is also leading an effort to change the law via ballot initiative in 2022. Last fall, the group submitted 483,461 signatures to the state for its initiative. -MLive
Good News
Michigan Department of State on Twitter:...

Congratulations to Canton Township Clerk @umichsieg; Ann Arbor City Clerk @JackieBeaudry1; Ottawa County Clerk @JustinRoebuck & teams on receiving @EACgov Clearie Awards for best practices in election administration! https://t.co/KtqVPeBEpw...

Read more
twitter.com
The PEG Newsletter typically goes out each Thursday, with a repeat send on Sunday that only goes out to recipients that have not opened it Thursday. PEG is a (mostly) non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to assure that our government will treat all Americans with equality and acceptance. PEG's work is primarily done by recruiting, educating and nurturing supporters for worthy organizations, actions and events that reflect our beliefs. To subscribe to this free newsletter, go to our website by clicking hereTo share with your friends and networks, use the sharing buttons at the top of the email or just "forward" from your email browser.
A special thanks to our Newsletter contributors: Ellen Halter, Mieko Preston, Leslie McGraw, Leslie Kamil, Lisa Kamil, Richard Gaeth, Bernie Banet, Susie Ayer, Bette Cotzin, Janet Cannon, and Chuck Newman for their help preparing our newsletters. Write us at equalityingovinfo@gmail.com if you would like help create our weekly newsletter. It’s fun and no ongoing commitment is required.
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