Detroit Regional Chamber Board of Directors Chair Arn Tellem, vice chairman of Pistons Sports and Entertainment, penned a piece for The Detroit News on the importance of civic participation by voting in the upcoming election. See the full story below.
Voting rights and election integrity are some of the most important political issues of our time. In an era of deep divisiveness and extremism, our democracy is at risk and it is vital for every eligible voter in America to stand up and be counted.
That’s not a popular view these days with many of the fringe groups trying to crowd into the town square. Many would soon suppress voter turnout to get their way.
But it’s the foundation of our democracy: One person, one vote. It needs protecting. And the Pistons organization is doing its part to promote civic engagement and get out the vote.
We have partnered with Detroit Votes 2022, a nonpartisan voter education effort to provide Detroiters with the information they need to register and cast their ballots. We want eligible voters to know that they can vote absentee through the mail and or in-person at an early voting center or drop box. We also want to raise awareness that residents can register to vote as late as Election Day and still cast a ballot at their local precinct.
Around town, Pistons standouts Saddiq Bey, Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey can be seen on billboards directing voters to DetroitVotes.org. You can find a secure voting drop box for absentee ballots in front of the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center in New Center. Pistons employees have formed phone banks to call voters and discuss their options. I’m pleased to say that our practice facility will once again serve as a receiving board on election night.
These efforts are not partisan. We’re not telling eligible voters how to vote. We’re asking them to take the time and effort to study the issues and to support democracy by making their voices heard at the ballot box.
In a country this divided, it’s an imperfect solution. Maximizing voter turnout won’t guarantee an outcome – it will only guarantee the fairness of the outcome in our majority-rules system.
And the nature of that divide cannot be overstated: A recent NBC News poll indicated that 81% of Democrats surveyed believe that the Republican agenda will destroy America as we know it, and 79% of Republicans surveyed believe the Democratic agenda will destroy America.
The survey also highlighted very little overlap between parties on the most important issue facing America. For example, Democrats are motivated most by threats to democracy and abortion. Republicans are motivated most by the economy, and immigration and the border.
Many of those issues are on the ballot this time in Michigan, and some of them enjoy a measure of bipartisan support.
Proposal 1, for example, would establish a constitutional amendment that would set term limits, require more fulsome financial disclosure from elected officials, and limit the revolving door in the state Legislature.
Proposal 2 is designed to make voting more accessible by, among other things, creating a nine-day early voting period, allowing for a signed affidavit or photo identification to vote, and providing voters with a right to request an absentee ballot.
Proposal 3 would guarantee legal access to abortion in Michigan. A “yes” vote would write a broad new right to “reproductive freedom” into the state constitution, superseding a 1931 abortion ban that eliminates the right to abortion even in cases of rape or incest and punishes abortion providers. Voting “no” would leave abortion regulation up to the Legislature or courts.
How these proposals are interpreted does vary, which is why I am encouraging all voters to get to the polls and cast their ballots. At a time when our nation’s fundamental rights and freedoms have seldom seemed more fragile, our voting system remains the best way to give voice to the people.