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redistricting

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.

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'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.

The Michigan state capitol building
Thetoad / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A petition campaign to overhaul the process for drawing the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts took a critical step today. Campaign volunteers turned in 188 boxes with more than 400,000 signatures. They are trying to get a proposed amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.

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.

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.

straight-party voting
Lars Plougmann

Several ballot proposals for Michigan’s 2018 election cleared a hurdle today.

The Board of State Canvassers approved the form of proposals on earned sick time, marijuana legalization and redistricting.

That doesn’t mean the board guarantees the content of the ballots will hold up against lawsuits. But it makes sure the campaign won’t succumb to a challenge in front of the board on technical issues after they gather signatures.

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.

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.

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 ask a roomful of voters if they think gerrymandering is an issue, it's a fair bet most of the people would raise their hands, regardless whether they were a Republican, Democrat, or independent.

There are several groups in the state looking at the issue for the 2020 the ballot. The group Voters Not Politicians is not waiting that long. It wants to put something on the ballot in 2018.

A citizens group wants to change how political boundaries are drawn in Michigan. Right now, the Legislature draws new lines for legislative and congressional districts every 10 years following the Census.

John Hanieski is an economist who says, right now, the numbers don’t add up. He says the state is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. But he says the GOP wins a lot more seats. 

He says the current system allows lawmakers to put their interests ahead of their constituents.

A legal battle over redistricting in Michigan could soon be underway.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Letters are being sent to some 60 attorneys, legislators and ex-legislators, staffers and ex-staffers, Governor Rick Snyder, and many others, telling them: Anything you have related to the 2011 redistricting process, you better keep it. We’re talking drafts of maps, emails, instructions, and confidential analysis.

Here are three examples of how messed-up and dysfunctional Michigan government has become.

First, last fall the Democrats had a candidate for state representative who had been convicted of eight felonies, charged with three more, and who had cost taxpayers nearly $100,000 thanks to a sexual harassment suit filed against him by an aide.


Michigan Republican Party

His only opposition bowed out of the race last weekend. Now, University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser is in line to succeed Ronna Romney McDaniel as chairman of Michigan's Republican Party.

McDaniel is the new head of the Republican National Committee.

Weiser was state party chair from 2009-11 and he joined Stateside to talk about the job, the state of the Republican Party and why it was "duty not desire" that drove him back to the chairman role.

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

In March of 1812, the Boston Gazette printed a political cartoon that showed the bizarre and twisted shape of a newly-redrawn election district.

The paper was responding to redistricting of the Massachusetts state Senate districts pushed through by Governor Elbridge Gerry. The redistricting certainly benefited the governor's Democratic-Republican Party.

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

One Well Brewing in Kalamazoo opened its doors Tuesday night for Michigan Radio’s latest rendition of Issues & Ale, our community conversation event series.

For the second time this summer, Michigan Radio and the Center for Michigan met up with listeners to discuss why trust in government is eroding in our state – and how that trust might be restored.

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

Every 10 years, Michigan legislators re-draw our congressional and legislative districts. Once the census numbers are released, the political party in power at the time controls the process, and that's when things can get ugly.

A U.S. Supreme Court out of Texas could change the way redistricting is handled in Michigan and every other state.

Eric Lupher, the president of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, joined Stateside to explain how the case of Evenwel v. Abbott could have a significant impact on future elections.

As we head into the final month of 2015, campaigns in Michigan are already ramping up for Election 2016.

user jdurham / morguefile

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss how student growth will be a big part of teacher evaluations this year, why redistricting won't happen, and what will happen to the political careers of Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat after the sex scandal


This political cartoon was printed in 1812 in reaction to the newly drawn state senate election district of South Essex created by the Massachusetts Legislature to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry.
Elkanah Tisdale / Boston Centinel, 1812

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."

Non-partisan commission would make more Michigan votes count

Jul 27, 2015
Michigan House Republicans

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea

Everybody who sets foot in a voting booth wants to know that their vote counts just as much as the vote of the next person in line. Faith in our democratic system rests on fair and representative elections.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s political map has been manipulated to the point that not all votes count the same. Politicians have drawn political districts so that in many places around our state, who wins or loses is a foregone conclusion long before the end of election night. They created the political map this way in order to give themselves and their party a head start in an election, much to the detriment of our democracy and your vote.

Michigan House Republicans

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea  

If the Michigan AFL-CIO or the Michigan Chamber of Commerce were each drafting a proposed constitutional amendment to “reform” redistricting, it would be met with media derision, with each eventual proposal seen as favoring one political party over the other.

But, when the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the Michigan Campaign Finance Network announce that they are part of a Collaborative working to draft an amendment, no similar skepticism has yet arisen. 

State law specifically says people without photo IDs, can sign an affidavit - and still vote
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democrats in the Legislature are calling for changes to how legislative districts are drawn.

The effort is built off a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The decision says voters can take the power to draw district lines away from the Legislature and hand it to an independent commission.

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow voters to take the authority to draw congressional district lines away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions has many Democrats and progressives in Michigan very happy.

There’s been lots of rejoicing among those who’ve hated gerrymandering – the drawing of district lines to benefit one party over the over.

gophouse.com

Michigan Republicans said this weekend they want to change the course of future presidential races by changing how the state allocates its electoral votes.

Delegates to the state Republican convention voted overwhelmingly to support the proposal.

Michigan Republicans want to join Nebraska and Maine to become the third state to portion out electoral votes by congressional district.

States could make sweeping changes to Electoral College

Jan 22, 2013
At the Republican National Convention.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In his commentary this morning, Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry pointed to what he is calling a Republican plan to rig presidential election results.

Currently, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, all of a state’s Electoral College votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in that state.

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