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Election Integrity News Blog


Bias in Campus Voter Recruitment: Student Voting Summit

by Kristine Christlieb | October 19, 2023

The Michigan Department of State is joining forces with a coalition of left-leaning organizations to educate students about “civic engagement.”

Promoted as nonpartisan, the day-long 2023 Student Voting Summit, held earlier this month at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., was dominated by one political party and funded by progressive organizations.

A group of conservative leaders and students gathered outside the event protesting the partisan favoritism in voter recruitment.

Michigan GOP Youth Vice-Chair Rylee Linting attempted to address the protesters, and Bruce Fealk, a 70-year-old Rochester Hills resident, shouted her down, screaming, “Liar! Liar! Every word is a lie. Liar, liar, pants on fire.” (Join MFE's Zoom @ Noon today to hear Rylee discuss the event and what life is like for a conservative youth on today's college campuses.)

Meanwhile, inside the campus facility, the sixth annual summit drew more than 100 high school and college students from across the state, some attending with financial assistance from the event’s nonprofit sponsors.

While all Michigan legislators were invited to participate in the afternoon student breakout sessions, the “Elected Official Panel Discussion on Youth Voter Engagement” included four Democrats and one last-minute Republican.

Seated on the panel were Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini (R), State Senator Sarah Anthony (D), State Senator Jeremy Moss (D), Mich. Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), and Mich. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) .

Forlini told Michigan Fair Elections he was invited to join the panel at the last minute to replace Representative Erin Byrnes (D).

Just days before the event, on September 28, the Gateway Pundit showed the event’s timed agenda with the Elected Official Panel composed exclusively of Democrats, including Rep. Byrnes.

“This event was not nonpartisan. There were no Republicans on the panel until [taxpayer funding of the partisan event] became an issue. Then, at the last minute, they began casting around for a Republican,” Michigan Senator Jim Runestad (R) explained.

Runestad led the charge against the Department of State co-sponsored event. The White Lake Charter Township resident paid for flyers pointing out the exclusion of Republicans from the panel, the event’s ties to leftist organizations, and the use of taxpayer funds for what he called “partisan indoctrination.”

Campus Vote Project was the lead non-profit organizer of the event. The group’s leadership is built around long-time, progressive activists.

Promote the Vote, the organization largely responsible for passage of Proposal 2 in 2022, also sponsored the student event and has leftist outstate ties. Four out of 5 of the the top donors to Proposal 2 and the Promote the Vote campaign committee included outstate and progressive donors:

Promote the Vote’s deceptive message that Prop 2 would "enshrine voter ID into the state constitution" is credited with tricking Michiganders into passing the constitutional change that, in reality, allows voters the option of signing statements as to their identities.

Michigan leads the nation in youth voter turnout.

Kristine Christlieb volunteers for Michigan Fair Elections and serves on MFE's communications team. She publishes Trust but Verify on Substack.


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