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gerrymandering

Michigan's 14th congressional district
Public Domain

A proposal that seeks to end gerrymandering in the state will be on the ballot this November.

The Board of State Canvassers voted to add the question from the group Voters Not Politicians on June 20.

Rick Pluta / MPRN

A state elections board has complied with a court order to place a question on the November ballot.  It would change how congressional and legislative district boundaries are drawn.

A jubilant crowd broke out in cheers as the Board of State Canvassers voted to put the Voters Not Politicians question on the November ballot. Voters Not Politicians leader Katie Fahey says the group has already started voter outreach efforts.

“We are eager and excited to go fixing our state,” she said. “…We look forward to being in the November 6, 2018, ballot.”

The proposal to change how Michigan draws the lines for congressional and legislative districts is about to go on the ballot. But, will it stay there?

The question to create an independent commission to handle the job of redistricting is poised to become Proposal 2 on the November ballot. The group that gives the OK to what questions make it on the ballot meets Wednesday.

Update, June 13 at 10:30 a.m.:

The group Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution has filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court and asked the justices to put an immediate hold on the lower court decision that would place the question on the November ballot.

Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

A proposal to change the way the state draws its political district lines must go on the November ballot. The Michigan Court of Appeals denied a request to keep a measure by the group Voters Not Politicians off the ballot.

The opposition group, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, said the redistricting proposal was essentially a redrafting of the state Constitution. 

Michael Dorausch / Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A campaign to amend the Michigan Constitution is asking a judge to order a state board to certify its question for the November ballot.

The amendment would create an independent commission to handle drawing legislative and congressional district lines. The campaign says that would take partisan politics out of the re-districting process.

Republicans don’t like the proposal. And this week, the Republican chair of the Board of State Canvassers abruptly canceled a meeting to certify the campaign had gathered enough petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

A panel of three judges ruled on Wednesday a gerrymandering lawsuit raised by members of Michigan’s League of Women Voters and several other Democrats will proceed.

The suit was filed in December against the Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who is the chief election officer of the state. It challenges the congressional and state legislative maps, which the plaintiffs say unfairly benefit Republicans.   

The Secretary of State's office moved to have the case dismissed, saying there were no grounds for a statewide case.

user eljoja / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan voters have some pretty strong feelings when it comes to recreational marijuana.

Michigan's 14th congressional district
Public Domain

We could debate endlessly about what people want and expect from state government, but a few things are clear: First, we want a government we can trust and that will respond to what we want. And it is also very clear people are fed up with our current system of hyperpartisan gerrymandering, in which legislative and congressional districts are always drawn to ensure perpetual Republican control of the Legislature and a majority of seats in Congress.

Michigan State Capitol Building
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week in Michigan politics, some Republican legislators led by Senator Mike Shirkey pushed to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Republicans also campaigned hard against a ballot initiative that would fight political gerrymandering and seeks to establish an independent commission to draw district lines.

Michigan's 13th congressional district
WikiCommons

Voters Not Politicians is the group working to get a proposal on the ballot to end gerrymandering. They are proposing that an independent commission draw congressional and legislative districts to avoid gerrymandering districts in favor of one party or another.

Some Republicans say Voters Not Politicians is a front-group for the Democrats. In fact, it’s likely a Republican-backed group will challenge the ballot initiative in court in an attempt to kill it before voters get their say in the matter.

Michigan's 13th congressional district
Wikipedia

Just in case you were wondering, I’m not running for the vacant seat in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. I’m not trying to start rumors. I’m not running for anything, and can’t imagine I ever would. I’m a journalist, not a politician.

PUBLIC DOMAIN

Gerrymandering, the drawing of a political district map to specifically give advantage to an incumbent, or to a political party, is an issue across the nation. It’s a way of watering down the will of the voters by drawing irregular lines on the map to pack the voters you don’t want into one district, while leaving another district easily won by your party.

In Michigan, that’s resulted in a disproportionate number of Republican legislators and members of Congress, compared to how the state votes.

Michigan's 14th congressional district
Public Domain

The Michigan League of Women voters is taking on the state. It says Michigan's legislative districts as currently drawn are unfair. It accuses the state and Republican controlled Legislature of drawing the district lines in secret back in 2011, then rushing the electoral map through the legislative process.

The lawsuit asks a court to declare the current electoral map unconstitutional. It also asks the court to require the state to redraw the lines fairly.

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Getting a state constitutional amendment on the ballot is a lot harder than it sounds, as many groups have found out over the years.

We could see the most dramatic change to Michigan politics since term limits. This afternoon, an all-volunteer group is one step closer to overhauling how redistricting is done in Michigan.

Nassar in court.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

The dean of Michigan State University's school of osteopathy, who supervised former sports Dr. Larry Nassar, is stepping down. Lawsuits filed against the university by alleged victims and their families say William Strampel and other MSU officials ignored warnings that Nassar was a predator. MSU says Strampel is resigning as dean for "medical reasons" and will remain on the faculty.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about whether we'll see more stories like this from MSU in the coming weeks and months.


Voters Not Politicians

A grassroots group of citizen activists opposed to partisan gerrymandering is making rapid progress toward its goal of getting a redistricting proposal on the ballot in Michigan in 2018.

An all-volunteer force, about 4,ooo strong and spread over 83 Michigan counties, has collected about 450,000 voter signatures in four months. That's according to Katie Fahey, president of the ballot committee called Voters Not Politicians.

"We have blown our goal out of the water," said Fahey.

The origin of the term "gerrymandering" comes from a political cartoon from March of 1812. This was drawn in reaction to the newly-drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts legislature.
J. Albert Bowden II / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you’ve been to a fall festival or any kind of carnival in the state lately, chances are there was a booth there for Voters Not Politicians.

That group is gathering signatures to get a proposal on the ballot. It wants an independent commission to draw the congressional and legislative districts to avoid gerrymandering districts in favor of one party or the other.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I struggled with how exactly to draw a gerrymander statue. My initial instinct was to draw it as an abstract monster because that's where the term came from. In 1812 a Governor Gerry in Massachusetts signed a bill to redistrict his state to benefit his political party. 

David Daley's book "Ratf**ked"
Liveright, 2017


If they know what it is, most people despise gerrymandering, the practice of drawing legislative or congressional districts largely based on partisan advantage. It’s hated, unless it's your party that's benefiting.

Last year, Stateside talked with David Daley, a former editor-in-chief of Salon and the author of Ratf**ked:Why Your Vote Doesn't Count, a book that deals with this very issue. Stateside​ host Lester Graham caught up with him to discuss the second edition's new epilogue on the 2016 election.

Michigan State University sign
MSU

This week, Michigan State University denied a request from a white supremacist group to rent space on campus. The university said it denied the request due to safety concerns following the violence that broke out last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Southeast Michgian's Congressional districts post-2010 redistricting.
Michigan House of Representatives

Democrats in Michigan and a handful of other states need to win some statewide races by 2020. Otherwise, they risk ensuring Republican majorities for another decade--even if Democrats get more votes at election time.

For months, a dedicated group of citizens calling themselves Voters, not Politicians, has struggled to come up with a way to give control of drawing legislative districts back to the people. The idea is to ensure fair, sensible and competitive representation to everyone.

That may sound like arcane political science babble, but it is not. Most of us are being effectively denied choices because of gross partisan gerrymandering done to ensure continuous Republican control of government.

voting booths
user eyspahn / Flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A grassroots group that wants to get an anti-gerrymandering proposal on the 2018 ballot is looking to make progress this week.

Voters Not Politicians is the non-partisan group in charge of the effort. It wants to change how the state draws its district lines.

The Board of State Canvassers will meet Thursday to approve or reject the form of the petition. It will look at things like font size and which portions of the constitution are referenced. This is meant to prevent lawsuits for improper format down the road.

Michigan's current congressional districts.
Department of the Interior

The founders of our system attempted to give this country, and later this state, something called representative democracy.

That’s supposed to mean electing people we trust to represent our best interests to make laws for the state and nation. That generally worked pretty well. Not that it was perfect, and for a long time some of us were shut out of participating. But eventually that got fixed.

A "vote here" sign
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

"Power to the people."

That slogan so widely used in the 1960s is the driving force behind a push to change the way Michigan draws its legislative and Congressional districts.

The group Voters Not Politicians has firmed up language for a voter petition to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for November 2018.

The amendment would overhaul Michigan's redistricting process.

A photograph of the Michigan Capitol building
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

How much do you trust state government and its ability to do its job?

Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When it comes to Michigan politics, two of this week's biggest topics were a proposal to mandate that employers let workers earn paid sick time and an effort to put gerrymandering on the ballot in 2018.

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress last night. This Week in Michigan Politics, Morning Edition host Doug Tribou and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about issues Trump touched on that resonate in Michigan, including a proposed $1 trillion investment in infrastructure nationwide.

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