VOTE YES on Proposal 2 for Democracy’s Sake

Guest Editorial by Peter Bagley

Posted In: Politics, , Opinion,   From Issue 869   By: Peter Bagley

18th October, 2018     0

Michigan is one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Michigan currently allows the politicians in power to go behind closed doors and draw their own districts. This is a clear conflict of interest.  Politicians manipulating political boundaries or maps is called gerrymandering.  We could also call it cheating or rigging elections. 

Ronald Reagan called it  “antidemocratic and un-American”.  The great news is that we can fix this on election day. If we don’t fix this now, we’ll be stuck with the current system for decades to come.

Politicians from both political parties will gerrymander whenever given a chance.  Gerrymandering takes place during the redistricting process and Michigan was last redistricted in 2011. The districts that are redrawn every 10 years become our Congressional districts and the State House and Senate seats.

In 2016, every congressional race in Michigan was won by a landslide, meaning the winning candidate won 60% or more of the vote.  This is a direct result of successful gerrymandering and is exactly what happens when politicians pick their voters. Uncompetitive elections result in voters losing their voice because politicians don’t have to listen.  It results in increased power to lobbyists and special interests. And it results in polarization, as politicians do not have to compromise.

Voters should pick their politicians, not the other way around.

This is the rallying cry of Voters Not Politicians, a grassroots, nonpartisan group of volunteers who succeeded in getting Proposal 2 on the ballot. In 2017 a band of almost 5,000 volunteers collected more than 425,000 signatures in 110 days to get Proposal 2 on the ballot. 

I joined this group shortly after its inception because I believe in fairness and a level playing field and maybe naively believe that these concepts should extend to our elections.  As a volunteer with Voters Not Politicians, I have spoken to hundreds of Michiganders in the past 18 months, and it is clear that Michiganders want to end gerrymandering and have the fair elections that the concept of one person, one vote promises. 

Editor’s Note: This proposed constitutional amendment would:

  • Create a commission of 13 registered voters randomly selected by the Secretary of State:
  1. 4 each who self-identify as affiliated with the 2 major political parties; and
  2. 5 who self-identify as unaffiliated with major political parties.
  • Prohibit partisan officeholders and candidates, their employees, certain relatives, and lobbyists from serving as commissioners.
  • Establish new redistricting criteria including geographically compact and contiguous districts of equal population, reflecting Michigan's diverse population and communities of interest. Districts shall not provide disproportionate advantage to political parties or candidates.
  • Require an appropriation of funds for commission operations and commissioner compensation. 

Presently, 7 states use political commissions for state legislative redistricting. 37 states, including Michigan, allow state set voting districts. “Independent” commissions drew state legislative district lines in 6 states.

 

 

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