LANSING, MI — According to a press release The Lansing Pastors United met recently with Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope in a effort to address concerns raised by the pastors about the closing of 12 polling sites in the City of Lansing. The sites were closed by the city clerk in April. The pastors, led by Rev. Dr. Michael C. Murphy, had challenged the city clerk to re-open sites and improve voting in Lansing. Both sides met over the past three weeks to negotiate a “win-win” situation for the citizens of Lansing. “Access to voting is important especially for our senior citizens and young people in our community,” said Rev. Murphy. “The reaction to the closing brought pastors and other community leaders together in an effort to make a clear statement that the initial plan by the city was unacceptable. I appreciate our city clerk’s willingness to meet and reconsider this matter and find an acceptable agreement.”
Murphy was joined by a number of clergy and community leaders including Supt. Sam Duncan, president of the Clergy Forum, Rev. Columbus Clayton, president of the Pastors Conference, Rev. Neil Davis, Rev. Lester D. Stone, and former mayor Tony Benavides.
A seven-point agreement includes the following:
1. Keep open the polling sites at Bethlehem Temple & Lett’s Community Center for the 2007 primary and general election
2. Review and consider reopening other closed polling sites particularly Fire Station Number 3, Wexford, St. Casmir, and Our Savior Lutheran for 2008 elections
3. Hold community hearings with churches for public input on access to voting , voter registration, and voter education in 2007 and 2008
4. Promote 2007 primary and general elections through advertisements with African American and Hispanic media (radio, print, etc.)
5. Partner with churches to increase voter turn-out in 2007 and 2008 elections in low voter turn-out precincts
6. Form a working coalition with faith-community, African American community, Hispanic community, senior citizens community, and labor community to promote civic awareness in Lansing
7. Make absentee voting ballots more accessible to senior citizens and faith-based citizens.