Your vote is sacred

Public testimony submitted to the Michigan Board of Canvassers, Nov. 23, 2020:

“Your vote is sacred.”

From the time an American is a child, we are told this untold times. Our parents instill these words in us when they take us to accompany them to the voting booth. Our teachers tell us this when we learn how our government is work — or is meant to work — in our school rooms. Candidates promise us this when they come begging for those votes. I heard countless lawmakers — Democrat and Republican — utter these words on the House floor when I worked for the Michigan House of Representative for seven years.

Fool that I was, I believed those politicians meant it when they said it.

Now, however, I’ve learned not all of them did. Nor do all of the members of the Michigan Board of Canvassers, the very people charged with ensuring our elections were free, fair and properly counted.

I can say with confidence that some of you are hypocrites. Why else would you be flirting with flushing away the votes of millions of Michiganders by not certifying our election — an election that was utterly unremarkable, as far as fraud or wrongdoing goes. You know as well as anyone that all lawsuits alleging otherwise have been laughed out of court. That includes the lawsuit containing the affidavit written by the wife of one of the members of the Board of Canvassers — and remind me again, why hasn’t he recused himself from this matter?

There is no question who won the presidential election in Michigan. It was Biden by about 154,000 votes. The only question here is why a delay is being sought, and that answer is obvious: to throw the matter to the Legislature, where the will of the people might be disregarded.

Having failed to find any sign of voter fraud in the actual election, you are now manufacturing your own voter fraud around the table of the Board of Electors and in the House and Senate Republican Caucus rooms.

Honestly, it breaks my heart.

Not What Democracy Looks Like

During my time working in the Legislature, I saw all kinds of shenanigans. I saw House Republicans fill up the gallery with their own staffers so that members of the public couldn’t witness them pass anti-labor laws. I was there when the Speaker of the House seduced one of the Democratic Representatives to switch teams minutes before the candidate filing deadline in an attempt to flip a district while running unopposed (and yet he still lost). I watched them play fast and loose with constitutional requirements like a two-thirds vote for immediate effect when there was no possible way they had that number. I watched legislative Republicans in their arrogance override Michigan voters by undoing voter referendums with a new law.

All this I chalked up to legislative shenanigans — distasteful, but except for the last example with the referendum — games that affected few outside the Capitol. While it certainly revealed character, I didn’t figure Michigan Republicans to be hostile to democracy itself.

But how else should Michigan voters view what you are doing now? Let’s be absolutely clear on this: You are proposing to take every vote cast by every Michigander, whether they voted for Biden or Trump, and to dump them in the trash. In their place, you’ll let the Republican caucuses of the Michigan Legislature talk for them.

That’s not democracy. That is not America, certainly not as I was taught it to be. And it’s not any sort of America I want for my future.

I implore you to have empathy with voters in Detroit who, for the first time, decided to vote Republican in an election. Like many other Black voters this year, they liked the message the GOP was sending about independence and opportunity and they wanted to give Trump a chance. What message are you sending them when you tell them that their vote isn’t sacred, it’s garbage?

I implore you to have empathy with voters who chose Biden after losing loved ones to COVID this year and want a leader to unite the country in action against the virus. How can they ever again consider voting for a Republican if you tell them today that your political games are more important than vote they cast to protect their family?

For that matter, consider the votes of your own family and friends, or your even your own vote. Because don’t forget, you will be throwing your own vote in the trash along with mine if you kick this matter into the Legislature.

You can’t be so short-sighted — can you?

I want so much to believe what my parents and teachers and even what the candidates and politicians told me was true. That in our country, people disagreed on issues, we disagreed on policy, but we all agreed in principles, in an ideal. We all believed in democracy. We all believed in a government that serves the people, not a people that serves the government. We all believed that a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.

I want to believe our vote is sacred.

I hope you want it as much as I do.

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