DETROIT - "The right to vote preserves all other rights. Tyrants deny people the right to vote," Rev. Jesse Jackson told a big voter mobilization rally here Thursday.
The rally celebrated the opening of a City Clerk satellite voting office on the campus of Wayne County Community College on the city's east side. The satellite office makes it possible for seniors and people who will be unable to get to their polling place on Nov. 6, Election Day, to cast an in-person absentee ballot starting now.
Jackson and others cited the long list of heroes and martyrs who gave life and blood to stop the domination of vote-denying "tyrants." Those who blocked African Americans from voting had a broader scheme, Jackson said - they wanted to deny democracy and control politics for all people, no matter their color, sex or religion.
Poor people, whose numbers are significant in this city, can be decisive in an election that will "determine the course of the nation for years to come," said Jackson. They can be the "swing voters" whose power determines who wins and loses, he said.
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey said anyone age 60 and over, or expecting to be out of town on Election Day, can begin voting today at one of the two satellite offices (another office opened on Wayne County Community College's Detroit northwest campus). They will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 to 5.
Speakers cautioned that this November's Michigan ballot will be very long and somewhat complicated due to the many judicial races and voter-initiated referendum questions.
United Auto Workers union representative Kevin Tolbert said timed studies have shown the two-page ballot can take 18 to 25 minutes to complete.
But from start to finish, those two pages are filled with important choices. On the ballot will be three State Supreme Court races and petition-initiated referendum questions on crucial issues like preventing unelected Emergency Managers from governing cities to protecting the right to bargain collectively.
Pastor D. Alexander Bullock, of Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church and Rainbow PUSH, said, "While we are concerned about the presidential race, we also want to make sure Michigan is a place where democracy is safe." He said 85 percent of laws affecting people in their daily lives are enacted on the state level and he urged voters to carefully vote the entire ballot.
The rally ended with those attending walking en masse to the new satellite office to begin in-person, absentee voting.
Photo: "Spirit of Detroit" statue, a Detroit landmark. mnemophobe CC 2.0