Republicans to clean up Michigan election?
By Ken Papenhagen II

The Republicans who run the government in Lansing are cleaning up the elections process in Michigan. Or that is their claim at least. In recent months they have attempted to make two bold changes in our state election laws. The first is to eliminate the straight party box on the ballots. The second change is the prohibiting of out of state PAC donations. This article will demonstrate that these moves are in direct conflict with the concepts and ideals of democracy.

The choice to choose a straight party ticket is what the Republicans want to eliminate. They no longer want the approximately 1.5 million voters in Michigan who choose to vote for an entire party to be allowed to check that single box. Instead they would force voters to vote for their preferred candidate in each race. Republicans say that this will force people to become more knowledgeable about each candidate. The reality is that it will slow voting down and turn voters away from the polls. Even worse is the fact that they will impose a time limit on how long a voter can be in the voting booth. 

Besides working over the state's ballots, Republicans have prohibited out of state PAC funds to be donated to Michigan candidates. This was done to eliminate out of state influence in Michigan politics. Actually they targeted a PAC by the name of Emily's List, known to fund Democratic women's campaigns. Why? To answer that one only has to look at the race for the governorship of Michigan. 

Actually Republicans like campaign contributions from sources outside of Michigan, as long as they are going into Republican pockets. State senator Bev Hammerstrom is one example of this. Senator Hammerstrom represents Lenawee and Monroe counties, as well as, a part of Saline, so she represents a great deal of our local's membership. One only has to review her campaign finance statements to see that she has no problem with campaign contributions from sources, like Enron, outside of Michigan. She reported that she collected $4,200 in 2000, $3250 in 2001, and $4200 in 2002 for a total of $11,650 from out of state donors. It does not seem like she is worried about out of state money influencing Michigan politics. 

The people in Lansing have to change. No longer can the voters of Michigan sit idly by and let them create a society that does not adhere to the principle of democracy. It is time to fight back. We can fight back by casting an informed vote in November. We can fight by signing our name to one of the ballots that is circulating to put the straight party question on the ballot for the people to decide its fate. We can volunteer our time to their opponents. We can give to our best weapon; V-CAP. V-CAP is a voluntary program, which members of the UAW can give to, which fights for working families. Contributions have gone to fight against the two issues already discussed in this article and they are at work to fight against a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits.

Soon the CAP committee will be asking the members of our local to give to 
V-CAP. Each year this has to take place so that the money raised can be used in Michigan. Members giving at least one dollar a month will have their name placed in the hat for a chance at a varsity style UAW Local 892 jacket. Members giving over one hundred dollars a year will receive their choice of a jacket or a watch. It is illegal to use dues money for political purposes, so the V-CAP fund is the only way we can fight against corporate PACs. 

The UAW needs your help to help you.