USW Activists Help Send Bill Repealing Voter Transportation Ban to Gov. Whitmer’s Desk

Thanks to the hard work of voting rights advocates, including members of the USW, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4568 earlier this month, overturning Michigan’s long-standing ban on hiring drivers to take voters to the polls on Election Day.

Activists, who helped propel a lawsuit that inspired this bill, said the ban restricted the voting rights of seniors, people with disabilities, young voters, and those without transportation.

Andrea Hunter, who serves as president of USW Local 1299 as well as the Detroit/Downriver chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, was one of many advocates who played a role in overturning this ban.

She and her fellow USW siblings had helped ensure voters had rides to the polls during the 2020 election. They also paid their drivers and driver’s assistants for their time, because many voters, especially senior citizens, are unable to afford their own transportation.

“Many of our Steelworkers and others lost their pensions when National Steel went bankrupt, causing severe economic restraints,” said Hunter. “In addition to Michigan being one of the states with the highest car insurance costs, we have become victims of increased utility costs.”

Not long after the election, they learned that their advocacy was illegal in Michigan. Of course, they knew they had to take action and reached out to Elias Law Group to represent them in a lawsuit.

The group’s tenacity paid off. Earlier this month, the activists were able to celebrate as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed HB 4568, which repealed the long-standing ban.

“We are overwhelmed with joy,” said Hunter. “Many in our communities became dependent upon us for transportation to the polls. We had gained their trust and support, and now with this repeal, we can provide this service again come 2024.”

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