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Voting rights group sues to overturn Michigan law on transporting voters to polls

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Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A voting rights law firm has sued to overturn a decades-old Michigan law.

The law bans anyone from hiring vehicles to get voters to the polls, unless they're physically unable to walk.

The lawsuit says Michigan is the only state with such a voter transportation ban, and that the law's only purpose is voter suppression.

Aneesa McMillan is with Priorities USA, a voting rights group that's one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. She said in other states, churches can hire buses to help members of their congregations vote, and ride-hailing apps can offer promotions to get people to polls. Not in Michigan.

"Laws like this typically have disparate impacts on marginalized communities, communities of color, communities that may struggle with access to transportation overall. There may be barriers to public transportation," she said.

Courts have upheld the state's law before, including in 2020, when Priorities USA took a similar case to federal court.

The current lawsuit names Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel as a defendant. Nessel's office said in a statement that it might be easier for plaintiffs to ask the state Legislature to change the law, rather than suing.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.