To promote voting safely during COVID, Ford School lecturer and former GOP Congressman Joe Schwarz teams up with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson

June 12, 2020

Access to the ballot is an increasingly fraught issue, with President Trump warning of massive fraud in absentee voting, voters worried about the risk of COVID-19 infection at polling stations, and recent mishaps with primaries in Georgia and elsewhere.

Ford School lecturer and former GOP Congressman Joe Schwarz is joining Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in an effort to calm those fears, in Michigan and around the country. He appeared on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside program June 9 to highlight the VoteSafe effort.   

“Voter suppression is one of the oldest plays that an organization can use in an election. And a lot of people will be afraid to vote. And people need to vote. We want to make it easy for that to happen,” he said.

“Voter fraud is extremely rare. Anybody trying to put fear into peoples’ hearts is committing voter suppression. And that’s what we’re trying to get around with this effort.”

You can listen to the Stateside interview here.

John J.H. "Joe" Schwarz is a lecturer at the Ford School. He received his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Michigan in 1959, and his medical degree from Wayne State University in 1964. Dr. Schwarz served his residency in otolaryngology at Harvard University, finishing in 1973, and has been in private practice in Battle Creek, Michigan for 42 years. Dr. Schwarz served in Southeast Asia for five years, first with the U.S. Navy in Vietnam and as an assistant naval attaché in Indonesia. He then served with the Central Intelligence Agency in Laos and in Vietnam. Dr. Schwarz was a City Commissioner then Mayor of Battle Creek, from 1979 until 1986. He was in the Michigan Senate from 1987 until 2002, serving as President Pro Tempore of the Senate from 1993 until 2002. From 2005 to 2007 he was a Member of Congress. Dr. Schwarz was chairman of the board of directors of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan 2005-2007, and serves on numerous boards and commissions. He was a faculty member at Harvard for one year and holds 11 honorary degrees. In 2007, Dr. Schwarz served on the panel to investigate care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, appointed by the Secretary of Defense, on the Governor's Emergency Financial Advisory Panel, and chaired the successful 2008 state constitutional amendment proposal allowing Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Michigan. Dr. Schwarz is currently serving on the board of directors of Voters Not Politicians, a statewide organization working that successfully pursued ballot initiatives to end gerrymandering in Michigan's congressional and legislative districts.