Voting Rights and Democracy

Like all prosecutors, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office represents “the People” of the State of Michigan. As such, we are committed to zealously safeguarding the right of the People to vote, and participate in democracy. Learn more about our efforts by reading our briefs and statements below.

December 18, 2023: Amicus Brief Urging Protection of Voting Rights Act

On December 18, 2023, Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit joined 42 local governments and governmental officials on a brief urging the full United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to re-hear—and reconsider—a prior decision preventing private litigants from suing under the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act is a federal law that prohibits racial discrimination in election practices. For over 50 years, it has been widely understood that disenfranchised voters can sue under the Voting Rights Act. Hundreds of cases have been filed by disenfranchised voters over the years. In 2023, however, a judicial panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that there is no “private right of action” under one of the Voting Rights Act’s main provision—meaning that, in practice, only the U.S. government can sue to remedy racial discrimination in voting under the Act.

The brief urges the full Eighth Circuit to rehear the case, and to reverse that ruling. The brief highlights that enforcement of the Act is essential to preserving free and fair elections that are not tainted by racial discrimination. It also highlights that decades of controlling precedent allows disenfranchised voters to sue under the Voting Rights Act.

September 6, 2022: Amicus Brief Urging Michigan Supreme Court to Place Reproductive Freedom For All Initiative on November Ballot

On September 6, 2022, Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit filed a brief in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of himself and six other elected prosecutors, urging the Supreme Court to place the Reproductive Freedom For All (RFFA) ballot initiative on the November ballot.

The RFFA initiative had been kept off the ballot—even though over 750,000 Michiganders signed petitions in its favor—because two members of the Board of State Canvassers concluded that there was insufficient spacing between the words on circulated petitions. The brief emphasized that the Board of State Canvassers has no legal authority to refuse to certify a proposed ballot amendment due to alleged “spacing” concerns. It further emphasized that, if the will of three-quarters of a million Michiganders could be thwarted by the subjective spacing preferences of two unelected canvassers, public confidence in democracy and the rule of law would suffer. 

Finally, the brief highlighted how crucial the RFFA petition is for millions of Michiganders who had their reproductive liberties cast into doubt by the United States Supreme Court’s decision overruling Roe v. Wade. Consistent with the Michigan Constitution, the brief emphasized, Michigan voters must be given their lawfully earned right to vote on the measure.

The brief was joined by Prosecuting Attorneys David Leyton (Genesee County), Carol Siemon (Ingham), Jeff Getting (Kalamazoo), Matthew Wiese (Marquette), Karen McDonald (Oakland), and Kym Worthy (Wayne).

January 8, 2021: Joint Statement Condemning Capitol Insurrection

On January 8, 2021, the Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney joined over 60 attorneys general and elected prosecutors to condemn the January 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol, and to urge all elected leaders to immediately accept the results of the 2020 election.