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August 11, 2023
Voting Rights Advocates File Legal Challenge to Michigan’s Restrictions on Transporting Voters to the Polls
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Detroit Disability Power, Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, Michigan Clergy Connects, Priorities USA and an individual voter filed a new legal challenge to Michigan’s voter transportation ban, which makes it a misdemeanor to hire paid transportation to take voters to the polls. The lawsuit is funded and supported by Priorities USA.
Because of the ban, local grassroots organizations, including churches, are barred from compensating drivers to transport voters to the polls. Additionally, national rideshare services like Uber do not offer free and discounted rides to the polls in Michigan due to the ban.
The lawsuit argues that the ban violates Article II, Section 4 of the Michigan Constitution, which Michiganders voted overwhelmingly to approve in 2022. The new provision prohibits anyone, including the state, from interfering with or unreasonably burdening the fundamental right to vote.
“Because the disability community is large and diverse, it’s important that our laws allow the flexibility required to accommodate our various needs,” said Dessa Cosma, Executive Director of Detroit Disability Power. “More options for where, when, and how to vote – including how to get to the polls- is essential for ensuring that Disabled Michiganders have equal access to our democracy. More transportation options mean that more of us will be able to cast our ballots and have a say in our future.”
“The Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, which represents hundreds of thousands of retirees across Michigan, many in suburban and rural areas which lack reliable or timely public transportation for our mobility-impaired members, is proud to join this effort to restore safe and reliable transportation to the polls on election day,” said Jim Pedersen, President of the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans.
“Michigan Clergy Connects supports organizers, faith leaders, and community leaders across Michigan who are working to preserve democracy. The transportation ban creates an undue burden on faith-based groups that desire to support voter engagement and access. We believe this law to be unfair, unjust, and unconstitutional and we look forward, along with the other plaintiffs in this suit, to seeing it struck down,” Michigan Clergy Connects Board Members.
“Access to reliable transportation remains one of the many barriers to the ballot box that many voters face when making their voices heard at the polls,” said Aneesa McMillan, Deputy Executive Director of Priorities USA. “The current Michigan law creates unique barriers to both voting and grassroots organizing which are critical to marginalized communities who face unique challenges when making plans to vote. We hope this litigation will eliminate this unnecessary law while expanding access to the ballot so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.”