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Sally Marsh

(She, Her, Hers)

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act.” – Congressman John Lewis

Sally is the director of special projects at the Michigan Department of State, and in this role she focuses on citizen-led redistricting, youth voter engagement, nonpartisan voter education, and other key initiatives of the department. As the lead staff member working to implement Michigan’s first-ever Citizens Redistricting Commission, she has spent the last year and a half encouraging citizens to apply to serve, and ultimately nearly 10,000 people from all 83 counties in Michigan and diverse backgrounds stepped up to participate.

Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sally graduated with a degree in Government and History from Harvard. Prior to her role at the department of state, Sally served as the Deputy Campaign Manager and Finance Director for Secretary Jocelyn Benson’s 2018 campaign. A condensed version of her senior honors thesis on the 2016 election in Michigan was recently published in the book Upending American Politics.

Invitations to Democracy
Explaining voting rights and participation

Presented by Sally Marsh, Michigan Department of State, United States; Whitney Quesenbery, Center for Civic Design, United States; Brenda Wright, Demos, United States

A new policy is only as good as its implementation. This is especially true of policies that aim for broad inclusion will not meet their goals if they are not explained clearly. Through three stories, we will show how lawyers, officials, and advocates can work together to make everything from forms to ballots and invitation to participation.


Our projects include

  • Inviting citizens of Michigan to join the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission.

  • Offering people a way to register to vote while getting a driver’s license or applying for benefits.

  • Helping voters use voting methods, like vote-by-mail and ranked-choice voting, to participate in elections.


Implementing new policies to invite participation requires:

  • A collaborative process that includes officials, advocates, and community members means broader perspectives are considered as implementation is planned

  • Usability testing in community locations helps bring first-hand experience from community members into the process.

  • Experimenting with innovative formats and explanations of concepts helps put the right information into the right format for the audience.


You might find these resources useful in your work: