Voting in any election is an important display of civic duty, but in regard to LGBTQ equality, the upcoming presidential election in November could have farther-reaching consequences than most. To help educate voters on the importance of making their voices heard and all the ways in which they can do so, LGBT Detroit hosted its PRIDE Decides 2020: OUT and Voting event alongside SAGE Metro Detroit, LGBT Detroit Mobilization, United Precinct Delegates and For Michigan's Future last week. The event was moderated by Between The Lines' Co-Publisher Jan Stevenson. Sharon Dolente, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan voting rights strategist, began the meeting with a message about Michigan's extended voting rights this year due to Proposal 3.
"It's a challenging year for any number of reasons, but the fact that Michigan has so many options and ways to make their voices heard in this election is a great opportunity and I'm really happy that Michiganders came together in 2018 to make sure that we have a voting system that works for everyone," Dolente said, referring voters to the aclumich.org page for a full breakdown of voting rights.
Next, Bilal Hammoud of the Michigan Department of State and Ani Manolatos of For Our Future demonstrated the process of requesting, completing and dropping off ballots early if opting not to vote traditionally on election day. In addition to traditional voting options, Prop 3 brought back straight-ticket voting, expanded voters' ability to participate in absentee voting for whatever reason and vote up to 40 days early at their local clerk's office.
Among the featured speakers, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist keynoted the event, and he emphasized his pride in talking with the group "on the day voting began in 2020."
"What I am heartened by is that at the core of all the things that have happened [in 2020], I actually see agency. I see the power within all of us as individuals and as a collective to impact these situations, to change them for the better, to lead our communities forward to a place where we are all safe and healthy and productive and supportive and supported," he said. "… And all of things that we've been dealing with this year and, frankly, some of the things that some of us have been dealing with for our lifetimes, whether you are a person of color, whether you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community — you name it. Whether you are a woman who has had patriarchy have its proverbial knee on your neck for eternity, we have an opportunity and we can do something about that."
To view the entire meeting click here.