Axios Detroit

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✅ Good Tuesday morning! Today is Michigan's presidential primary, when voters help narrow the field of presidential candidates.

🌂 Today's weather: High near 65, with rain likely before 1pm and then again this evening. Windy, with gusts up to 23 mph.

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Today's newsletter is 889 words — a 3.5-minute read. Edited by Everett Cook and copy edited by Cindy Orosco-Wright.

1 big thing: Why political campaigns keep texting you

Illustration of a hand with a megaphone coming out from a mobile phone screen.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If it feels like you're getting an influx of text messages asking you to vote one way or another, you're not alone.

The big picture: In 2022, Americans received 15 billion political texts, an unprecedented record — and 2024 is gearing up to be a bigger year for the messages, Axios' Sareen Habeshian reports.

  • The amount of texts in 2022 marked a 158% increase from 2021, according to data from Robokiller.
  • At the same time, there was a 57% decrease in political calls.

State of play: Alex Quilici, CEO of call-blocking company YouMail, said that based on data observations, he anticipates political text messages will "go nuts in 2024" as the November election approaches.

Between the lines: A 2021 Supreme Court decision loosened requirements around obtaining consent for sending out mass text messages, rejecting the notion that text messages violate the federal ban on robocalls.

  • "It's a channel that's not blocked," Quilici said, adding that the texts are legal and the focus has instead been on blocking robocalls.
  • Campaigns can access phone numbers through databases made up of public records, which are managed by brokers that in turn sell the data to campaigns, often for pennies per name.

Context: In 2020, the Republican National Committee sent more than 225 million texts to drive voters to the polls.

  • The RNC uses text messaging to engage directly with voters and activate supporters to volunteer and vote, in what is a "critical" part of its get-out-the-vote campaign, spokesperson Anna Kelly told Axios.

Where it stands: If you want to block such texts, you can typically opt out by replying with "Stop."

  • Several service providers also allow you to block the sender by forwarding unwanted texts to 7726 (or "SPAM"), according to the FCC.
  • The FCC has banned text messages from being sent using an autodialer, unless the user previously gave consent to receive the message or the message is sent for emergency purposes.
  • You can file a complaint with the FCC if you receive unwanted commercial texts, an autodialed text you didn't consent to or one from a telecommunications company.

Read more

2. Election Day: How to vote in Detroit

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey inside Detroit's Northwest Activities Center on Feb. 17, where Benson cast her primary ballot.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, right, and Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey on Feb. 17 inside Detroit's Northwest Activities Center, where Benson cast her primary ballot. Photo: Samuel Robinson/Axios

It's Election Day, and voters across Michigan are choosing who they prefer as nominees for president on both the GOP and Democratic sides.

Why it matters: National Democrats are watching Michigan closely as Arab and Muslim American voters are urging allies to join them in voting "uncommitted" in the primary.

Zoom in: Democratic voters will choose between President Biden and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota. Marianne Williamson, who lived in Grosse Pointe in the 1990s, will appear on ballots but dropped out of the race.

  • Seven names appear on the Republican side but only two are still in the running: former President Trump and former South Carolina governor and ex-U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.
  • Haley told the Detroit News before a rally in Troy last weekend that Trump helped Democrats win Michigan in 2020.

State of play: There's no political party registration requirement to vote today, though Michigan's closed primary requires voters to select and vote in only one party primary.

How it works: Search your voter information by name or driver's license number here to find your polling location.

  • If you want to vote with an absentee ballot today, hand-deliver it to a drop box or clerk's office. Track the status of your already mailed ballot here.

Keep reading for Detroit's early voting totals

3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration of a vinyl record that says "The Grapevine."

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

💸 Wayne County court clerks are seeking higher wages to stem an exodus that's hampering the court system. They make about $38,000 annually — less than their counterparts in Oakland and Macomb counties. (Detroit News)

Eric Mays, the outspoken and confrontational Flint councilman who called attention to the city's water crisis, has died, the city announced. He was 65. (MLive)

🏈 Michigan will set the record this week for the most players sent to one NFL combine — 18. (ESPN)

🏀 Head coach Monty Williams ripped the officials last night after a no-call cost the Pistons the game in a 113-111 loss to the New York Knicks. (Free Press)

4. 📈 High school grad rate

Illustration of a percent sign made out of apples and a pencil.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Michigan's high school graduation rate increased for the second straight year, Chalkbeat Detroit reports.

Why it matters: The 2023 rate, 81.8%, is a promising sign that students are continuing to recover from the disruptive pandemic.

Between the lines: The state, which released the data Friday, noted that graduation rates rose for Black and Hispanic students, students from low-income homes, youths experiencing homelessness and those in foster care.

  • But gaps persist. The graduation rate for white students was 85%, and for Asian students, it was 93.5%. For Black students the rate was 71.3% and for Hispanic students, it was 76.8%.

Zoom in: Detroit Public Schools Community District's four-year graduation rate was 74.26%, up significantly from 71.06% in 2022.

  • But its 2023 dropout rate significantly outpaced the state's, 16.6% to 8.1%.

Read the full story: Michigan's high school graduation rate increases for the second year in a row

New jobs to check out

💼 See who's hiring around the city.

  1. Director of Finance & Accounting at Hello Innovation.
  2. Content Marketing Manager at Near.
  3. Senior Procedural Specialist at Articure.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

5. Where is Joe?

Joe at a mystery location in Detroit

Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

👋 Joe here with another local geography quiz.

Can you identify the historic building over my right shoulder?

  • This should be an easy one — today's installment has clues galore.

📬 Reply to this email with the correct answer for a chance to win some free Axios Detroit swag!

Our picks:

☕ Joe is deciding whether to embrace his coffee snobbery and buy stuff to make pour-over coffee at home.

🎧 Annalise is listening to Djo's "End of Beginning" on repeat. Thanks, Steve from "Stranger Things."

🥂 Sam is wishing everyone a happy election year!

🌞 Everett enjoyed the Monarch Club on a sunny Sunday and is wondering why rooftop bars never seem to be that crowded during the day.