T. Kelly, Special to the NNPA from The Michigan Citizen
DETROIT (The Michigan Citizen)—The Michigan Democratic Party is rolling out an aggressive plan to win the African American vote this November. President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign transformed Democratic strategy for one of its core constituencies, African Americans. The Obama-effect, as it is called, brought out an unprecedented number of young and Black voters, according to a Pew analysis of census data. Black women voters were especially impactful.
Despite 2014 being an off-year election, not a presidential, Michigan Democrats are counting on Blacks this November.
“Under my watch, the days of the Democratic party coming to the African American community in October are over,” says Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson. “Detroiters have disproportionately bore the cost of Gov. (Rick) Snyder’s policies — economically and socially.”
Johnson says, statewide, the party has undertaken an unprecedented effort to increase African American participation. The party has amassed an email list of over 70,000 African Americans in Michigan, tripled spending and has increased its executive committee participation to over 40 percent representation from communities of color.
The party has also, for the first time, commissioned a poll to understand the needs of African Americans voters and launched a new online method of applying for absentee ballots.
Absentee ballots typically increase turnout because they make it convenient to vote, mitigating election-day factors such as work or weather, and is an early form of voting. On Sept. 5, the party rolled out miabsentee.com, which, because of electronic signature, enables voters to apply for an absentee ballot via smart phone or other mobile devices.
In Michigan, anyone over 60 is eligible for an absentee ballot. If you are not 60, and a registered voter, a voter must meet the Secretary of State’s requirements.
In 2012, 27 percent of votes cast were by absentee ballot.
Godfrey Dillard, the MDP’s secretary of state candidate, says he plans to make it easier for everyone in Michigan to vote.
“The number one job of the secretary of state is to manage elections. In recent years, voting on election-day in Michigan has been decreasing despite statements made by the secretary of state that (the office) is making it easier for you to vote,” says Dillard.
He also believes the 2014 cycle is critical for Black voters.
“There are thousands of African American voters who are registered but have not voted in recent elections,” says Dillard. “African Americans need to get out the vote to change the dire situations we are in. Seniors are being taxed, funding for education reduced and EMs installed in various different cities, denying or suppressing the African American vote.”
Recent poll numbers show Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Schauer’s numbers increasing while the incumbent governor’s numbers are stagnant. An August 27 EPIC-MRA poll, showed Schauer in the lead with 45 percent supporting. A Sept. 9, Local 4 poll shows Snyder ahead by 1.8 percent with a four percent margin of error. Gov. Snyder has not been able to move past about 43 points in recent months.
Johnson says the poll numbers are a result of Gov. Snyder’s policies.
“This governor has circumvented democracy, taxed pensions and cut education and stripped away collective bargaining rights of workers,” according to Johnson.
Sept. 10, Schauer formally accepted three debate invitations from WXYZ, CBS Detroit and Michigan Public Television. The WXYZ debate will take place the week of October 26.
Gov. Snyder has not yet agreed to a televised debate schedule. He has, however, offered to debate Schauer at the Detroit Economic Club.
Voters will go to the polls Nov. 4.