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Auchter's Art: Advocates for impartial redistricting face surprising opposition

May 11, 2018

I may have gone a bit deep into the weeds on this one, but if you hang with me a minute, I do have an actual point.

There has been a growing dissatisfaction in Michigan regarding how our state and federal voting districts are drawn. Currently, the majority party gets to draw the maps and as you can imagine, that party takes advantage to create districts that disproportionately favor itself. This is known as gerrymandering, and in Michigan's case, it's the Republican Party taking advantage. (In other states, like Maryland, it's Democrats.)

Because the Republican-dominated state legislature has no incentive to address this issue (other than, you know, actually doing its job), a grass-roots group called Voters Not Politicians was created to find a solution. Over the past few months, they collected enough signatures to get a proposal on the November 2018 ballot that would make redistricting fair, impartial, and transparent. But not without a challenge.

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce has a political action committee (PAC) called Chamber PAC II, which has made contributions to an affiliated PAC called Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution, which opposes the Voters Not Politicians efforts because (ostensibly) they feel a ballot proposal is not the right way to amend the Michigan Constitution. This week there were some additional shenanigans when the Detroit Free Press reported that Enbridge Energy (one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors) made significant and timely contributions to the Chamber PAC II, which raises all sorts of potential environmental questions.

See what I mean? Weeds.

But my point is: The Michigan Chamber of Commerce clearly has no direct conflict with fair, impartial, and transparent redistricting. It is making the calculation that its influence may be reduced if the new redistricting plan results in less Republicans being elected. That isn't necessarily true. But even if it turns out that way, the Chamber would still be better served by promoting the value of Michigan commerce instead of trying to game the system.

John Auchter is a freelance editorial cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.