MI Coalition Spotlights Need for Jail-Based Voting Improvements
Friday, June 17, 2022
Voting-rights groups in Michigan are working to increase awareness about and access to voting in jails.
In Michigan, anyone not serving a prison sentence is eligible to vote, although there are barriers often making it nearly impossible for those in jail pre- or mid-trial. They may not be fully aware of their voting rights, and lack internet access and the materials needed to learn about candidates and issues, or to register and cast a ballot.
Local groups are working to increase voter outreach in jails, and advocating for policies to make it easier.
Percy Glover, member of the Voting Access for All Coalition and a Genessee County Ambassador, explained part of the challenge of getting people in jail reconnected with voting.
"Being in jail and being in prison is very destructive on people. They doubt the system. They don't trust the system," Glover pointed out. "Some of them may have been also wrongfully arrested, wrongfully detained, so why would I be interested in voting?"
Glover urged educating eligible voters in jail, and building out jail-based voting systems across all county jails in Michigan. He also hopes Michigan will follow Maine, Vermont and Washington, D.C., in allowing people in prison to vote as well.
Amani Sawari, justice services director for Spread the Vote, which is partnering with Michigan to create a "vote-by-mail in jail program" program. They help with voter registration by paying for expenses required for jailed voters to obtain an ID, and providing stamps, envelopes, forms and voter guides.
"Our goal is to create if not an in-person program, at least a remote process for jailed voters," Sawari emphasized. "To not only register while incarcerated, but to also receive their absentee ballot to their place of incarceration, so that they can fully participate in voting."
Other states where Spread the Vote is working to facilitate jail-based voting include neighboring Wisconsin and Indiana. As Juneteenth approaches this Sunday, the Voting Access for All Coalition is spotlighting the ways social issues like poverty and race are intertwined in the criminal legal system as well as affecting voting rights.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.
get more stories like this via email
Many of California's 13.5 million children and teens have not bounced back after the pandemic, especially children of color, according to the just-…
Americans continue to report low trust in mainstream media, with many younger than 30 saying they trust information from social media nearly as much …
A Minnesota House committee heard testimony Thursday about the governor's proposed spending plan for education. As these talks unfold, public polling …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals say low pay and a worker shortage have led a dramatic number of nursing homes in rural Iowa to close their doors. They hope …
Health and Wellness
Health-care professionals and advocates in Connecticut have said it will take sweeping reforms to bolster the state's flailing public health system…
In her fifth State of the State address this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized policies designed to put more money in Michiganders' pockets…
A Republican-sponsored bill in the Arkansas Legislature would make it illegal to circulate petitions at or near polling places during elections…
New Mexico residents have two weeks to submit written comments to the Environmental Protection Agency about its proposal to implement stronger standar…