A Few Thoughts on Election History on Primary Election Day

This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.  This act prohibits discriminatory voting practices that have been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of millions of people over the course of U.S. history.

While our nation has made multiple strides in the area of voting rights, in recent months we have seen an increase in the number of laws that add barriers to voting.  These laws require specific forms of photo identification to be present to vote, reduce early voting in certain states, and make voter registration done by nonprofits and civic organizations more challenging.   In Michigan, Governor Snyder vetoed bills that would have made voting in our state more complicated and disenfranchised thousands. In an effort to eliminate voter fraud, we have haphazardly created more barriers to voting. This ultimately reinforces what Voting Rights Act was attempting to prevent.

Voting is a right.  Removing barriers to voting and to make it more accessible is important. Nonprofits in Michigan are aiding in this process by participating in MNA’s 2012 Track the Vote. Not only do nonprofits see accessibly as an important part of electoral engagement, but government agencies do as well.

Recently, the National Association of Secretaries of States declared September 25th as National Voter Registration Day .  This announcement falls in line with months of coordination by nonprofits and civic organizations across the country who are already mobilizing people to register to vote on this day.

It is important to remember the history of voting in our country and acknowledge  the struggle that it took to get here.  It is equally important for all organizations, including nonprofits, to encourage legislation and policies that erase barriers to voting and encourage 100% voter turnout.

Finally it is important to vote, and you can start today!

Vote in today’s Primary Election.

Not sure where your polling location is for today’s primary visit the Secretary of State website .

Have questions about who is running, view the candidates here.

Remember all of the people who fought long and hard to guarantee us these rights. And don’t forget to vote!

Submitted by Meredith Reynolds Assistant for Public Policy and Membership, Michigan Nonprofit Association 

The Path of Least Resistance?

What do voters think about the current budget debates at the state and federal levels? If we go by the major headlines, we want cuts to the public budgets and no new taxes. Or do we?

Now that the realities of the proposed cuts are coming into focus, it is unclear if the budgets proposed so far actually meet the expectations of the public that will be impacted by the changes. Such is the nature of major change—it all looks good from afar, but when it comes to our own sacrifices, we see ours as too large and others as too small.

The gridlock at the federal level with the near-federal government shutdown will be amplified as Congress and the White House debate the 2012 budget. But we are now realizing the cuts of the current budget compromises. Included in those, hidden away in the obscure portion of the Labor Health and Human Services budget, is a small dollar amount cut with large implications—the elimination of funding for Learn and Serve America funds. These are important dollars that help young people not only learn experientially (especially important for those “hard to reach” students), but also promote the school climates we all agree are important to quality learning.

At the state level, a small cut of $675,000 in the massive Department of Human Services budget will not only eliminate all support for the Michigan Community Service Commission, but also turn away more than $13 million in federal funding for national service programs all across Michigan.

To balance our state budget, lawmakers are proposing the elimination of tax credits that have leveraged millions to help local communities through community foundations, food pantries, homeless shelters, arts organizations, and colleges and universities.

Do voters really believe that eliminating support for sound, proven, affordable (bordering on cheap) programs that solve problems that government cannot afford to address directly makes any sense? We may never know, because there is little talk about what the voters actually want.

The Center for Michigan has been working hard to identify what Michiganders want to see in a Michigan budget, but few if any of their suggested reforms have received enough support. They have even developed a tool for citizens to identify how they would balance the budget.

A flood of recent polling indicates that voters are not supporting many of the proposed cuts to programs. Slate Magazine reports all political ideologies oppose the cutting of Medicare – 92% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans, 75% of Independents, and 70% of Tea Party Members. Regarding revenues, the recent Gallop poll shows that Americans do not want lawmakers to remove charitable incentives.

Clearly there is a strong sense that people know that changes are necessary, but the proposals on the table are largely looking to impose change on those least likely to present strong opposition as opposed to changes the voters are telling pollsters they would like to see.

At no other time is the voice of the nonprofit sector more necessary than now.


Submitted by Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO, for the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Tomorrow is Election Day!

Tomorrow is Election Day! The polls open at 7:00 a.m. and will remain open until 8:00 p.m. Make your voice heard tomorrow by participating in this important election!

Need some tips for tomorrow? MNA has a number of helpful election resources available on our Michigan Participation Project website. Check out the Quick Links below or just visit the site.

Quick Links for Election Resources
My Polling Location: Find your polling location by entering a few pieces of information about yourself on this website. From here you can also access your sample ballot.
Do I Need Photo Identification? Yes, but if you do not have a photo ID or forget to bring it with you to the polls, you can still vote by requesting and signing an affidavit. More detailed information is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
Filling Out a Ballot in Michigan: Nervous about filling out your ballot correctly? Check out this easy-to-read description and visual example of how to fill out an optical scan ballot.
Nonpartisan Voter Guides: Statewide and local guides to give you nonpartisan information on candidates for Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, U.S. House of Representatives, State House and Senate Districts, Supreme Court Justices, University of Michigan Board of Regents, Michigan State University Board of Trustees, Wayne State University Board of Governors, and many more.
Statewide Ballot Proposals: Get information on Ballot Proposals 10-01 (Constitutional Convention) and 10-02 (Ban on felons holding some government offices).
Sample Ballots: Provide a few basic pieces of information about yourself and this handy site will provide a reminder on your polling location, contact information for your local clerk, and a copy of your sample ballot.

Submitted by Kari Sederburg, director of public policy for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Make Election Day a Success

The November 2 Election is just around the corner! Here are 5 things your organization can do to make this Election Day a success, provided by our friends from the Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network.


5 Things Your Nonprofit Can Do
Not sure what to do? Try out some of our suggestions below to make this Election Day a success!
1. Increase visibility around the election. Turn up the volume by including voting reminders in all of your communications. Put up signage or decorate with streamers to create a celebratory atmosphere and increase excitement.

2. Ensure staff and volunteers are equipped to answer basic questions about the election. They should know when polls open and close, how to help locate a polling site, and have contact information for your local election board and national voter hotlines available.

3. Make personal contact. Reach out to voters by integrating conversations about the election into your services and meetings. Make announcements and ask individuals if they are planning to vote, or if they have already voted. Personal reminders and offering help to a voter are effective get-out-the-vote tactics.

4. Post a sample ballot or nonpartisan voter guide. Many voters–new and experienced–still have questions about voting, and they’re more likely to vote if they know what their choices will look like on the ballot.

5. Know where to turn. Have contact information for your local election board available. Advertise toll-free hotlines such as 866-OUR-VOTE and 888-VE-Y-VOTA.

Remember to check out the Michigan Participation Project website for voter guides, finding your polling place, and more.

Submitted by Kari Sederburg, director of public policy for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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Last Day to Register to Vote in November’s Election

Today is the deadline for registering to vote in the November 2 election! You can check on your voter registration status by visiting the Secretary of State’s website and entering in some basic information. If you are not registered to vote, you can download the voter registration form and return it to your local clerk’s office. If you are registered to vote, this site will confirm your voting location, as well as provide you with a sample ballot so you can see exactly what you will be voting on in November.

With huge turnovers across state government and many important local and federal races, it is important that you make your voice heard this election!

Make sure you are registered to vote on November 2!

Submitted by Kari Sederburg, director of public policy for Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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