Duggan rips GOP election bills, calls them ‘voter suppression’

    Elections staff are receiving ballots from drivers, allowing voters to walk-in and submit their ballots at City of Detroit Election Commission headquarters, Aug. 3, 2020 | Ken Coleman

    Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan on Monday blasted a recently introduced set of GOP election reform bills and called them “deeply troubling.”

    “It needs to get stopped right now,” Duggan said during a news conference where he announced new COVID-19 vaccination sites. “There is no other way to describe it. It’s voter suppression.”

    Last month, the Senate Republicans introduced a 39-bill package that would ban unsolicited mass mailing of absentee ballot applications, prohibit pre-paid postage on absentee ballot envelopes for absentee ballots, require a photo ID, curb the hours people could drop off their ballots in boxes and require video surveillance of such drop boxes.

    Duggan, a Democrat serving in his second term as mayor of Michigan’s largest city, compared the legislation to the 1940s, ’50, and ‘60s racial segregationist “Jim Crow” laws of the American South.

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    “This is a desire by a group of people to maintain control by denying other people their rights,” he said.

    Republicans in almost every state have introduced voting restrictions following President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, which saw record turnout in Michigan and other states. Conservative groups have been leading the effort, with a high-profile package signed in Georgia last month.

    Michigan Republicans argued that the package will “make improvements in five areas — making it easier to vote, protecting the vote, election day operations, increased transparency and absentee voting.”

    “Michigan residents must have complete confidence in the fairness of elections and that all who can legally vote can vote,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) posted on Facebook at the time. “That’s why we’re proposing policy reforms to do just that – restore confidence in our elective form of government while giving everyone a voice.”

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.