Voters Not Politicians and Redistricting in Michigan
On Friday evening March 24th, ‘Count MI Vote’, supported a workshop on gerrymandering by two
members of their subgroup, ‘Voters Not Politicians.’ It was held at Scholars Hall on NMC’s Campus with 150 participants in attendance, many of whom were GT Dems and Indivisible TC members.
The workshop leaders began by explaining that gerrymandering is redistricting gone wrong. Voting districts for federal and state legislators are drawn in Michigan by the State Senate Committee and the State House Committee. Therefore, they have the power to choose the boundaries and the type of voters in each district. This enables the political party in power to increase the probability of their own candidate’s reelection. It was pointed out that both parties do this.
The dynamic speakers explained how clustering similar voters (packing) in one district, or splitting them between two or more districts (cracking), can increase the chance of the favored party’s candidate winning a seat. They showed numerous examples of very strangely shaped districts in Michigan’s urban areas. They indicated that Michigan’s current political split is 50.3% Republican and 49.3% Democratic but our 14 representatives to Congress are split nine Republicans to five Democrats, and have been that way for the last 3 elections. Further evidence is found in the State Senate at 27 Republicans to 11 Democrats and the State House of Representatives skewed with 63 Republicans and 46 Democrats.
Voters Not Politicians are planning to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018 to require that an independent, citizen based commission has charge of drawing up the districts in a manner that promotes fairness. They are still debating and seeking input on the composition of the committee, and the data that they will consider in the process. They will need 315K signatures and plan to start collecting in May. They have six months to collect the signatures, and get the referendum on the ballot for the vote in 2018.
Participants were encouraged to sign up to distribute and collect signatures online at http://www.votersnotpoliticians.com/volunteer/. The energy and the expertise of these speakers makes this huge but necessary task seem possible.
This is a non-partisan issue. We all want our votes to count. Sign up to volunteer.
Submitted by Linda Pepper,
Member TC Indivisibles and
Editors note: For more information on Gerrymandering watch our web-page for an upcoming talk on June 3, 2017 by Mark Brewer on this topic.