Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Cornel West Is Targeting Michigan

Michigan will be a battleground next year for so many reasons. One of them is that Cornel West is targeting Michigan and could take enough votes away from Joe Biden to hand the state to Donald Trump.

West needs to focus on just one or two states because he doesn't have any money. A big ad blitz is out of the question. Early next year, he is planning to go to Dearborn and make a pitch to Arab Americans who are unhappy with Joe Biden's support of Israel. That may or may not work because if West succeeds in handing Donald Trump the keys to the White House, the U.S. will become much more heavily pro-Israel than it is now. However, Arab-American voters may not realize this and may just vote to punish Biden, without concerning themselves over the consequences.

West will also go to the majority-Black city of Flint to blame the Democrats for the city's notorious water-supply problems. He also plans to address student groups.

But without any money or much name recognition, it will be a steep hill to climb. Also, West recently fired his campaign manager and replaced him with four co-managers. Such a structure does not lend itself to good and consistent decision making. Remember, a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Another problem is getting on the ballot in many states. In a number of states, the entire ticket has to be known for independents to get on the ballot. That means West will need a running mate very soon. Everywhere he tries, Democrats will sue and he'll have to hire lawyers to defend himself.

Another problem is that Jill Stein is trying to get the Green Party nomination. She is far better known than West is and will be on the ballot in more states. Most of the left-wing protest votes will probably go to her. Past experience shows that protest votes are more common in states that are so lopsided that using your vote that way doesn't matter. In swing states, like Michigan, that is less common.

However, another factor could counter West's attempt to hand Michigan to Trump. The state legislature has just passed a bill that will probably help the Democrats. One aspect of HB 4983 is that it will require the state to register all ex-felons to vote as soon as they are released unless they explicitly refuse registration. Many people just released in Michigan don't know that every resident who is a citizen over 18 and who is not incarcerated has the right to vote. Even those who know this may not know how to register. This law will make it much easier and simpler as the state will now do the work. About 8,000 people a year are released from state prisons in Michigan. Prisoners skew Black and Black people skew Democratic, so this is a win for the Democrats.

In addition, the bill expands the number of opportunities for people to register. Currently, people getting a driver's license or otherwise going to the DMV can also register to vote there. These people are sometimes referred to as "motor voters." The bill now requires most state agencies to offer voter registration when people interact with them; for example, when applying for Medicaid. The bill also changes the opt-out procedure. Everyone interacting with state agencies would be automatically registered by law. They would not be asked if they want to register. Instead they would be mailed an "opt-out form" that they could fill in and return to de-register. Experience in other states shows that this procedure greatly increases registrations because it takes extra work to de-register, and for many people it is not worth the effort just to get off the voting rolls. (V)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates