|By PR Newswire||
|September 12, 2012 06:53 PM EDT||
Millions of Michiganders Are Not Registered to Vote As Oct. 9 Registration Deadline Looms
DETROIT and WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nonpartisan, nonprofit groups dedicated to increasing participation in elections are using mailings, new digital tools and other efforts to reduce the massive number of Michiganders who are not registered to vote. The deadline for citizens to register in Michigan for the fall election is October 9.
More than 2 million eligible Michigan residents are not registered to vote, according to U.S. Census data. Nationwide more than one-in three eligible Americans -- 73 million people -- are not on the voting rolls. Leaders of organizations including the NAACP and the Voter Participation Center (VPC) today briefed reporters on efforts to increase the number of registered voters in Michigan.
"The right to vote is sacred, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us," said Yvonne M. White, president of the Michigan State Conference NAACP. "Dr. King said, 'So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind -- it is made up for me. I can only submit to the edict of others.'"
Groups including the NAACP and VPC are mailing more than 280,000 voter registration applications, to arrive in Michigan mailboxes soon. Information and instructions on the mailers have been reviewed by the Michigan Secretary of State's office. Eligible voters can fill in, sign the applications and mail them straight to election registrars' offices in pre-addressed envelopes to then be certified by government officials.
"Mailing registration application forms to unregistered voters has already helped nearly 20,000 people in Michigan submit applications to election registrars, just since last September," said Page Gardner, VPC president.
Election officials often have neither the time nor the resources to conduct widespread voter registration outreach. In addition to helping voters, the nonprofit-sponsored mailings also conserve government resources by cutting costs to print voter application forms and by helping reduce the last minute crush of new applications that come into registrars' offices just before a Presidential election.
"We believe in the bedrock principle of our nation: elections should be free, fair and accessible to all," Gardner said.
"We want everyone in Michigan, regardless of color, to be able to exercise that sacred right to vote," White added. "Voting rights and voter registration are a central focus of the NAACP this year. At the NAACP state convention this weekend, we'll be training volunteers from around Michigan on ways to protect voters' rights at the polls."
The NAACP interactive website, This Is My Vote, provides not only information on registering to vote but also materials and other digital tools to assist volunteers interested in holding their own voter registration drives.
SOURCE Michigan State Conference NAACP