The voting restriction bill that recently passed in Georgia brought a lot of controversy to the state, and now Michigan might be next.
In response to a Republican-sponsored bill proposed in the Michigan legislature that would make it tougher for disenfranchised populations to exercise their constitutional right to vote, mlive.com reported that top executives from Detroit's four major sports teams signed a letter that objects to any legislation that makes it harder to vote.
Detroit Lions president Rod Wood, Detroit Tigers and Detroit Redwings owner Christopher Ilitch, and Detroit Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem all signed the letter that was released on Tuesday, before deliberations are expected to start in the Michigan Senate.
“Government must support equitable access to the ballot to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their rights,” the letter says. “Government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters.”
In addition to sports executives, top executives from 30 of Michigans largest companies also signed on to the letter, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Ford, Quicken Loans, and General Motors.
What would the Michigan bill do?
Similar to the Georgia voting bill, the Michigan package, which contains 39 different bills, does include a few items that will make voting easier, like an extra day of early voting. But according to mlive.com, the vast majority of the bills include measures that would restrict voting access. A photo ID would be required for both in-person voting and absentee ballot applications. Absentee ballot applications would no longer be automatically mailed to residents. Access to curbside ballot drop boxes would be restricted. The government would be barred from providing prepaid postage on absentee ballot return envelopes.
By a 2-to-1 margin, Michigan voters approved expanded absentee voting access in 2018 as part of a vote to amend the state constitution. The New York Times reported that the new package of bills would roll back most of those voter-approved expansions.
It's a positive step that executives from Michigan's largest companies are being proactive about this voting restriction package. Executives from Georgia companies didn't weigh in on the bill until after it had been signed into law, and by then it was too late.
However, the state needs more than just sweeping statements about voter access. Calling for lawmakers to "proceed in the spirit of inclusion and equality" is great, but what happens if the bill becomes a law? Hopefully this letter isn't those CEOs last words on the subject, and they're ready to take action if restrictions are enacted.