Focus of February meeting: Promote the Vote!

Great meeting today! Our monthly meeting was at Fountain Street Church at 4pm.

Several local students spoke first. They are coordinating the Grand Rapids March For Our Lives event on March 24, at Rosa Parks Circle, from noon to 3pm.

Steering Committee member Gary Stark spoke about a Blue Wave in 2018 and examined voting patterns in the elections of the past year, showing how close some of them were – in particular the race in Virginia where the decision rested on one vote.

The main speaker of the meeting was Sharon Dolente, from the ACLU of Michigan. She explained the Promote the Vote effort to get a change in the state’s constitution on the November ballot. It is a fight for full and fair access to the ballot by changing the voting process which is now influencing who has a voice, and who does not.

There are three issues:
Issue #1 is Access. Currently, Michigan and Mississippi are the only states that have failed to adopt any reform giving citizens more freedom to choose 1.) when and how they register to vote or, 2.) when and how they cast a vote.

Voting reforms would include:

  • online voter registration
  • pre-registration of 16 and 17-year-olds
  • no-reason absentee voting or early voting
  • extending the voter registration deadline
  • portable registration
  • election day registration
  • automatic registration

Issue #2 is Election Security. The main issue is Michigan’s “failure to mandate post-election audits that can confirm the accuracy of election outcomes leaves the state vulnerable.”

Issue #3 is Privacy. Michigan leaves the secrecy of the ballot to the legislature and is silent on overseas voting.

Dolente touched on a couple other issues. Check out their website. They have FAQs and voter stories.

Finally, Kate Devries, treasurer for Kent County Democrats, shared tips on hosting a House Party to raise funds for candidates. She said to frame the fundraisers as “asking people to invest in a shared vision of our community we can have if we win.” One plan is that you and 4-5 people each ask 4-5 other people to come to meet with the candidate, have some food. She suggests asking for $50 donations (about the amount a couple might spend to go out to eat).

Our next meeting is Sunday, March 25. Check the calendar on our home page for meeting dates and events. Join our Facebook group. If you would like a weekly email of events, please send your name and email to to get on our mailing list.