News & Classical Music from Northern Michigan
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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

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.

Copyright 2023 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers the auto beat for Michigan Radio. She has worked for the station for 12 years, and started out as an intern before becoming a part-time and, later, a full-time reporter. Tracy's reports on the auto industry can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio. She considers her coverage of the landmark lawsuit against the University of Michigan for its use of affirmative action a highlight of her reporting career.