Group seeking end to partisan redistricting

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Gerrymandering by politicians redraws electoral districts to favor the party in power, a practice which Common Cause Michigan says lets political parties choose the voters they would like to have in their district, rather than the voters choosing their politicians.

A group calling itself Voters Not Politicians (VNP) has set about collecting a required 316,000 valid signatures to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot, according to a July 17 online article by Paul Egan for the Detroit Free Press.

“(The) group says it wants to amend Michigan’s constitution to end political gerrymandering of election districts,” the article states, “taking the job of drawing the districts away from politicians and putting it in the hands of an independent commission.”

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class, something the Republican Party in Michigan has been accused of.

Michigan’s electoral districts are controlled by lawmakers controlling the state Legislature, the Free Press article states, with disputes resolved by the Michigan Supreme Court, whose members run on a nonpartisan ballot but are nominated by the state’s political parties.

The mission of the VNP is to end gerrymandering by 2018, the organization’s website states, through a citizen-led ballot initiative.

“With a simple majority vote from the voters of Michigan,” the VNP website states, “we will amend Michigan’s constitution to place an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in charge of redistricting, ensuring that voters will choose their politicians, not the other way around.”

Common Cause Michigan (CCMI), a non-profit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization, also supports VNP’s initiative.

“Our current system of partisan redistricting,” the CCMI website states, “distorts the very concept of one person, one vote, by letting elected officials choose the voters they would like to have in their districts. Common Cause supports the creation of a Citizens Redistricting Commission whose members would not be beholden to elected officials.”

If the proposal passes, the amendment would assign electoral redistricting to a nonpartisan commission. Iowa already has such an amendment and, according to VNP, it has worked well.