“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” Malcom X.
What is the future of the vote in Detroit? After last year’s infamous election, the same question can be asked throughout the country. However, with controversy surrounding the vote count in the 2016 election, Detroit is ground zero for the future of the vote.
For Detroit, the future is now. 2017 marks the citywide elections for offices ranging from the mayor to the board of police commissioners, and perhaps most notably, the city clerk. As alluded to earlier, following the 2016 election, numerous reports emerged regarding faulty machines resulting in erroneous tabulations of votes. Although a recount was in effect, due to faulty vote report machines, over half of Detroit votes were ineligible for the recount. Naturally, as the chief elections official, the City Clerk came under fire, with one news outlet even calling for the Clerk’s resignation.
However, the City Clerk remains in office for now, and while outdated technology accounted for much of the blame, the Clerk also identified human error as a significant source of the problem. Specifically, the city has struggled to recruit and retain elections inspectors and precinct workers, with this work mostly falling to senior citizens. The average age of city poll workers is 68, and poll worker training occurs only once before the primary and general elections.
While the City Clerk has advocated for quarterly poll trainings and appeal to younger Detroiters, the debacle of the 2016 Election has compromised the integrity of the clerk’s office, as well as the vote itself. This is troubling for younger voters, who along with Baby Boomers constitute the largest electorate in the United States. Yet, the youth vote is notorious for low turnout during elections, with 2016 being no exception.
For the future of the vote in Detroit to not only grow, but remain intact, we must simply refer to history, our greatest teacher in life. By following the words of the late, great, Malcolm X, we must educate our young people on the importance of voting, and engage them in the political process early and often. Expanding poll trainings and targeting young voters is a good start, but the efforts must not end there. With voting rights under attack nationwide, here in Detroit, we can act now by reaffirming the vote and growing our power by investing in the youth, effectively setting the standard for the rest of the country moving forward.