The WØRD – “Vote!”

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson celebrates the first day of early voting in the presidential primary, casting her ballot on Saturday.

From the Chair

Early voting is underway in Michigan’s presidential primary.

A vote for any other presidential candidate or a vote as “uncommitted” does not help our cause against Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans. Trump and MAGA Republicans are a danger to our democracy and the health of our nation. Trump and MAGA Republicans are looking to undermine our democracy, remove gun safety measures, stall our nation’s economic progress, enact a national abortion ban, and much more. President Biden and our vision of unity must be at the forefront, and that begins with a united effort to support President Biden in the primary.

The nine-day early voting period, culminating with the election on February 27, is a result of one of the 142 new laws passed in 2023 by our Democratic Legislature that went into effect last Tuesday. The delay was thanks to ongoing Republican foot-dragging. The state constitution says a law can only go into effect immediately if it gets a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. Republicans decided to delay the inevitable on all of those laws by denying the two-thirds immediate effect vote.

Regardless, the early voting law is part of a package of bills enacted by the Legislature to make it easier for Michigan citizens to exercise their right to vote. Other new election laws include secure drop boxes, electronic tracking and streamlined absentee ballot processes, including a permanent mail voter list. Another new law directs the state to automatically register people who are leaving incarceration to vote. Effective June 2025, this landmark legislation restores voting rights for historically disenfranchised people.

Against a backdrop of historical disenfranchisement, Democrats stand as fervent advocates for voting rights, and will continue working to strengthen voting rights and accessibility for all Michiganders, especially Black voters.

Election officials across Michigan have faced threats of violence since the 2020 election, hindering efforts to fully staff elections. A new law protects poll workers against intimidation and threats, ensuring a safe environment for election workers, and another makes it a felony to prevent an elected official from performing their official duties in conducting an election.

House Democrats have solidified Michigan’s commitment to accessible and secure elections with key bills reflecting ongoing efforts to strengthen the state’s democracy. The measures increase access to voting, safeguard the democratic rights of Michiganders and affirm Michigan as a place where every voice matters.
And best of all: Michigan’s chief elections officer is the nation’s best Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson. She is one of the nation’s leading experts on election law and literally wrote the book on running state elections. “State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process”  looks into their pivotal role in the promotion of a healthy democracy. The book provides the first in-depth study of the Secretary’s role in registering voters, enforcing voting laws and regulations, overseeing elections, and certifying results.

In the wake of these monumental legislative victories, Michigan stands poised for a new era of empowered voters and strengthened democratic values. The dedication of our lawmakers has made it easier for every voice to be heard at the ballot box.

State Senator Jeff Irwin (D-Washtenaw County)

While the 2023 legislative session was a record-setter for passing important laws, there is more to be done. One important effort will be expanding on the state’s contribution to fighting climate change. We’re joined on the podcast by Washtenaw County state Senator Jeff Irwin, a key leader on climate change.

Senator Irwin is a fearless advocate for the environment, public education, and criminal justice reform, among other areas. He is serving his second term in the Michigan Senate.

Since 2018, Senator Irwin has introduced legislation tightening regulations against polluters and ensuring our schools are properly screening students for dyslexia — and getting them the help they need. He has worked to allow more juvenile offenders to seal their records, expunge all cannabis-related offenses, ban PFAS in food packaging and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Irwin has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and lives in Washtenaw County. He represented the City of Ann Arbor in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.

A new ad from the Biden-Harfris campaign focuses on how Donald Trump has become Vladimir Putin’s proxy in the United States: calls for abandoning our allies, encouraging Putin’s Russia to invade any NATO members that don’t meet Trump’s standards.

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