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National Commission on Voting Rights Hearing – Detroit, Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 07, 2014

Commissioners will hear from voters, community leaders, advocates and elections officials regarding challenges, successes and opportunities for reform in all aspects of voting in Michigan 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Commission on Voting Rights, organized by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is holding a hearing in Detroit for voters, activists, elections officials and all with a stake in Michigan's elections. The Detroit event is the third of a series of nationwide hearings being held to collect testimony on the current landscape of voting and elections in the U.S. Over the past few years, numerous states have enacted restrictive voting laws, while many others continue to grapple with recurring election administration and electoral reform challenges.

Information will be gathered about the challenges, successes and opportunities for reform in all aspects of voting in Michigan.  All who are interested may attend and/or speak. We expect to hear from voters, community leaders, advocates, elections officials and more. 

In 2005, the Lawyers' Committee established the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act to support efforts to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  In February 2006, the Commission issued a detailed report on its findings, and Congress then relied on the Commission's report Act. Whereas the 2005 Commission focused on voting rights and racial discrimination exclusively, the reconstituted 2013-14 Commission will also examine electoral administration and reform issues because of the increased interest concerning these issues throughout the country and the need to draw similarities and differences in voter experiences depending on their state of residence. The testimony, facts, and data gathered during the hearings as well as state-specific documentary research will be compiled into comprehensive reports and made available to anyone seeking to reform or improve existing voting laws including but not limited to policymakers, advocates, and the voting public.

A panel of Michigan voting rights and elections experts will be receiving testimony on a range of topics, including:  voting changes, voter registration, voter ID, election administration (e.g., provisional ballots, polling location issues, and method of elections), voting discrimination, student voting issues, and access to the ballot for individuals with disabilities and communities of color. 

WHAT: National Commission on Voting Rights, Michigan State Hearing
Panels - There will be formal panels of witnesses representing voting rights organizations, community leaders, election officials, and other stakeholders. Witnesses are encouraged to submit written testimony in advance of the hearing. The panel of commissioners will also receive the testimony orally and may ask follow up questions; Public Testimony - There will be opportunities throughout the event for Michigan voters to testify about their experiences. To register in advance, please visit mihearing.lawyerscommittee.org.

WHEN:  Thursday, January 9, 2013, 4 -8 p.m. (registration starts at 3:30 p.m.)

WHERE: Wayne State University Law School (Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium - 471 W. Palmer Street; Detroit, MI 48202)

Michigan Commissioners:  Dean Jocelyn Benson, Wayne State University Law School; Judge Harold Hood; Professor Ellen Katz, University of Michigan Law School; Justice Marilyn Kelly.

Sponsors and Supporting organizations (not exhaustive):  Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law • APIA Vote - Michigan • Common Cause Michigan • D. Augustus Straker Bar Association • League of Women Voters of Michigan • Michigan Election Reform Alliance • National Action Network • Sierra Club Michigan

For more information about the National Commission on Voting Rights, please visit ncvr.lawyerscommittee.org.

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