Preying on election fears isn’t helping the common cause


Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist told the Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church a couple weeks ago that “Republicans are scared of you voting. Period. Republicans are scared of people who look like us voting.”

Sen. Erika , D-Taylor, was so fired up about the 39 election reforms bills her Senate Republicans colleagues introduced that she cut a press release headlined “GOP bills put lipstick on Jim Crow.”

The Michigan Republican Party called Gilchrist’s characterization and claims of racism “reckless.” If their bills are so racist, why do a majority of African American voters support a key tenant of the legislation — that all voters produce an ID at the polls?

So, we’re back to talking about voting reforms, which means another round of partisans talking past each other to rile up their respective political bases.

It leaves the rest of us to scratch our collective heads.

Why is it hard for Republicans to understand that Black voters in Detroit take offense to having the finger pointed at them seemingly every time the term “voter fraud” is tossed around?

Last year’s election was close. President Donald Trump was winning before the final votes in Democratic-controlled Wayne County were counted. You don’t need to be a Michigan electoral genius to figure out that unless Trump was up by a comfortable margin before Wayne County was finished that he likely would lose.

What if Wayne County finished counting first and Macomb County was the last to report? Joe Biden would have been up by a lot, but after Macomb was done counting, he would have only won by a little bit.

Is that good enough reason to suspect fraud? Should Democrats have descended on Macomb County like Republicans invaded the TCF Center in Detroit, waving flags and breathlessly claiming fraud over a process they didn’t understand?

Deep down, most Republicans know there wasn’t widespread fraud in Detroit. No, the election wasn’t run perfectly in Detroit. It NEVER is. Not at least in our lifetimes.

Obviously, more could be done to make sure all the numbers balance out at end. More than 70% of the city’s pollbooks shouldn’t be off, even if it’s by one or two votes.

This has been a problem for at least five decades, though. Are the Republicans serious about addressing the issue by giving chronically underfunded cities resources to properly train Election Day staff? Or is it more beneficial to politicize it?

Meanwhile, in the throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater file, isn’t is possible that the Republicans have some good ideas? At least something to talk about?

Moving the primary election to June for starters? How about limiting access to the Qualified Voter File? Having a special early Election Day on a Saturday before the main election? Balancing out the partisan ratio of election inspectors at a polling location? Expanding the time for canvassing? Sifting out people registered to vote in more than one location?

The GOP bills don’t create a poll tax. Not one of them. They don’t say you can’t vote unless your great-great-grandfather voted or some other BS the South created back in the day to actually suppress Black turnout.

Nearly every voter has a driver’s license or a Michigan ID card. If you have to show ID to buy beer, cash a check, rent a room or use a credit card, what’s the big deal about asking for an ID for a ballot?

If you don’t have one, one Republican bill allows the poor to get one for free.

Just because the word “Republicans” is being paired with “election reform” doesn’t automatically make it bad.

That said, nobody should be presuming Black people are stuffing ballots because a few corners were cut at 4 a.m. in the interest of time, especially when folks feel like the system is against them in terms of process and few resources.

Instead of turning a rural white army on these poor election workers, how about finding out a way urban areas can actually get results out by 11 p.m. on Election Night? Florida figured it out!

As far as I’m concerned, assuming the worst in one another doesn’t advance the common interest. It only preys on prejudicial fears to advance others’ interests.


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