Groups fight fair vote districts
For the time being, it looks like Michigan voters will get a chance to straighten out Michigan’s crooked electoral districts. Under orders from the Michigan Court of Appeals, the state board of canvassers met Wednesday to certify the more than 400,000 petition signatures that Voters Not Politicians gathered to reform reapportionment in Michigan.
Voters Not Politicians wants to take the reapportionment process away from the Legislature and give the job to a non-partisan panel. The goal is to bring election districts into compliance with the law, which requires districts to contain the same number of citizens and expects that they will be drawn in a way that makes them as close to square as possible. Instead, Republican lawmakers gave us districts in St. Clair County alone that are so obviously intended to disenfranchise the Democratic voters in the Port Huron, Marysville, St. Clair and Marine City it is almost laughable.
The result of the Legislature’s twisted map-making over the past decade is that although Democratic candidates for the state House and Senate get more votes statewide than their Republican opponents, more Republicans get elected. It means that the interests of areas that tend to elect Democrats are not represented in Lansing. And it means that the voters in those areas — Democrats and Republicans — are casting votes that don’t matter.
Someone once called that taxation without representation.
Like the guys who threw British tea into Boston Harbor, Voters Not Politicians is a grassroots effort. Instead of spending thousands of dollars hiring a firm to circulate its petitions, thousands of volunteers collected its signatures. And they didn’t have much trouble collecting more than the number required because voters are fed up.
Their effort to straighten out the state’s gerrymandered voting districts isn’t over yet. Voters Not Politicians has opposition that has appealed the appeals court’s order to the state Supreme Court. The high court would not block the order to the put the issue on the November ballot, for now, but will hear arguments from Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution.
Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution isn’t exactly a grassroots, “citizens” organization. It is a front for the state Chamber of Commerce and Republican Party. It is getting tens of thousands of dollars from, among others, a group called Fair Lines America, a Virginia organization that is spending millions of dollars fighting gerrymandering reforms across the country.
CPMC isn’t defending the Michigan constitution. And Fair Lines America is not advocating for fair, competitive voting districts. CPMC is protecting Republican seats in the Michigan Legislature and Fair Lines America is defending the unfair process that gave the GOP a majority it didn’t earn.
— Times Herald (Port Huron)