In the six months since Secretary of State Ruth Johnson introduced her package of legislation aimed squarely at making it harder for people to vote, you would think she’d be able to come up with at least one example of voter fraud being committed in Michigan. Instead, committee hearings on the laws have found nothing but broad opposition from non-partisan voter registration groups and weak anecdotal evidence from Republican politicians. 

Why would Lansing politicians be so concerned with chipping away at our fundamental right to vote? Because it’s all part of a national movement to restrict voting for partisan gain. Republicans have been working for 30 years to hold voter turnout down, and now they’re betting the next election on a coordinated legislative effort intended to win elections by changing the rules. Republican politicians have introduced laws in at least 40 states that would make voting more difficult for everyone – and especially for voters who supported President Obama in 2008. 

In Michigan, the astroturf organizing component of this effort is being carried out by a local branch of “True the Vote,” a supposedly non-partisan outfit founded by a Texas Tea Party group that recently hosted the author of an article titled “Registering The Poor To Vote Is Un-American.” The same group also carried out Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recall challenge efforts for him, challenging hundreds of thousands of seemingly-legitimate petition signatures, and has worked to purge voter rolls in several states.

These radical special interests are conspiring to keep you from voting – but a coalition of non-profits is fighting to protect your right to vote. The A. Philip Randolph Institute, League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and Project Vote will be holding a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, April 24th, to denounce this package of bills. As Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson should be taking steps to increase the number of registered voters in Michigan – just 22 percent of whom cast ballots to put her in office in November 2010. Instead she is engaged in a regrettable effort to drive turnout down across the board, which should not be the goal of any branch of government. 

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