DETROIT — On Monday night, U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich. 13) joined advocates from All Voting is Local Michigan, Detroit Action, and the League of Women Voters of Michigan for a nonpartisan telephone town hall, moderated by reporter Olivia Lewis of BridgeDetroit, to answer questions about voting amid COVID-19.  The discussion emphasized challenges in Black and Brown communities including: the need for meaningful, in-person options to cast a ballot, and new state processes and deadlines for voting by mail.

While Michigan officials have expanded voting by mail amid COVID-19, the process may be unfamiliar to many. The panelists discussed why voting by mail is safe, secure, and accessible, and answered questions from callers in the Detroit area.

A video of the town hall can be found here

“When you vote, you’re showing up for each other,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich. 13). “And when we show up for each other, we save lives. When you vote, you’re bringing your home neighborhood with you. Do it with so much joy.” 

“One of the things that we have to remember is that elections are about people collectively speaking up, and we’re going to have to speak differently this year,” said Aghogho Edevbie, Michigan state director of All Voting is Local. “It’s OK to be concerned, but at the same time, we shouldn’t spread disinformation. Voting by mail is safe and effective. And it works.”

“Of the tools in the toolbox that we can use, voting is one of the tools that is often stripped from us,” said Branden Snyder, executive director of Detroit Action. “Barriers are often put in front of folks to not be able to use this tool. So we want to be able to make sure that voices are elevated and people are heard.”

“The issues you care about–whether it’s systemic racism, immigration, environment, education, gun control, policing–the elected officials who make the decisions on these issues are elected by the voters,” said Betsy Cushman, vice president –  voter service of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “You need to be involved in that process.”