State to provide more support for Detroit elections

    Little Caesars Arena, Detroit | Susan J. Demas

    Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced Wednesday morning a partnership “to ensure the integrity and accessibility” of the Nov. 3 general election in Detroit. This comes after longstanding problems in Detroit elections, including 72% of Detroit’s absentee voting precincts failing to match the number of ballots cast in the Aug. 4 primary.

    The partnership is supported by Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the Center for Tech and Civic Life and will include:

    • Opening 14 additional satellite clerk offices – for a total of 21 across the city – where voters can register and request and return absentee ballots starting October 5. The offices will be open six days a week, staffed by city of Detroit employees and operating in recreation centers and other facilities.
    • Installing more than 30 secure ballot drop boxes across the city that will be continuously monitored and secure.
    • Recruiting and training at least 6,000 election workers to ensure every one of the city’s 182 polling locations and 134 absentee counting board is fully staffed.
    • Hiring additional staff to support the city clerk’s office, including Christopher Thomas, former Michigan Bureau of Elections Director, who will serve as a senior advisor.
    • Revising protocols for ballot counting and sorting to make more effective use of high-speed scanners and reduce the potential for error.

    Detroit Lions teaming with Benson for Election Day work, voter awareness efforts

    “Partnerships are critical to running smooth, secure elections and the additional staff, resources and support from the city, county and state will further strengthen our election system as we navigate this unprecedented time,” said Winfrey. “Detroit voters should feel completely confident that their voices will be heard when they cast their ballots ahead of and on Nov. 3.”

    Little Caesars Arena will provide space for physically distant in person training for new election workers to ensure election workers and staff are fully prepared to execute their duties on Election Day.

    And Detroit will also become the first city in the nation with all four of its top professional sports teams – the Detroit Red Wings, Tigers, Pistons and Lions – engaged with the city to promote voter education, provide staff election day off to serve as election workers, and use their arenas an sports facilities to support election administration.

    “Democracy is a team sport and as a longtime resident of the city of Detroit I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Clerk Winfrey to ensure she has all the support she needs as her team prepares for the culmination of one of the most challenging election cycles in modern history,” said Benson.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.