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Redistricting

The LGBT Detroit nonprofit, in perhaps one of the most glaring examples, submitted their own map, which covered the Palmer Park area, only to see it split into two districts. And this was after LGBT Detroit’s map garnered the most positive public feedback above all other maps submitted in the online forum.

It was a frustrating process, says Jerron Totten, social justice engineer for LGBT Detroit. Totten, like many of the community organizers who engaged the MICRC, is conflicted about the outcome.

Redistricting – and how nonprofits helped to preserve democracy

MJ GALBRAITH | TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2023

Norman Clement has set high bars for himself and his neighbors come 2024.

Clement is founder of the Detroit Change Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing opportunities for Detroiters by improving civic engagement. With the November 2022 midterms barely behind him, Clement is already locked in on 2024. His aim? To increase voter turnout in Detroit to a staggering 85 percent of registered voters.

For context, the most recent presidential election in 2020 had slightly more than 50 percent of registered Detroit voters cast their ballots. These most recent midterms, in November 2022, garnered a voter turnout rate of 33.75 percent — though midterm elections historically don’t generate nearly as much interest as do the presidential elections.

It’s a big swing he’s taking, though you wouldn’t know it from talking to him. Clement’s pragmatic approach to community organizing makes it seem like an 85 percent turnout rate might even be possible. He’s analyzing which voting precincts had the least amount of participation and turning his organization’s focus there to knock on doors, text when they can, and get more and more Detroiters registered and voting.

Detroit Change Initiative will partner with other nonprofits in getting out the vote. Clement is a big believer in the role nonprofits play in our democracy, going so far as to say that nonprofits “saved America” in this most recent election. Nonprofits like DCI are on the ground and in the neighborhoods, and never not working.

“Nonprofits? We don't take time off. There's always work to do every year; you have to be there every single year whether there’s an election or not,” he says.

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