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Series of statewide forums focus on voter education

Election polling station sign
Wikimedia | Tom Arthur | CC BY 2.0

The League of Women Voters of Michigan are holding a series of informational forums across the state on redistricting. This follow a Supreme Court decision on voter boundaries in Arizona.

Elizabeth Ennis is with the LWV's Berrien and Cass counties chapter.

"Gerrymandering or redistricting is done by each party. They’ve been doing it since 1810. So this is a part of the American fabric. But it’s a part that needs to change," she says. "We need to guarantee one person, one vote. And have the vote matter."

Ennis chaired two public chats in Holland on behalf of the league and its local chapter this week. She says the emphasis is awareness and not advocacy. 

Ennis gives an example –

“Let’s say there are 50 voters in a district," she says.

Half of the 50 vote Democratic. The other 25 vote Republican.

"But – because it’s out of balance, by the way the line is drawn where those people live," she says, "they won’t get equal representation by the legislature on their vote."

In Michigan, as in most states, district boundaries are drawn by the state legislature. Redistricting occurs every 10 years following the U.S. Census.

The Supreme Court’s decision last June granted redistricting responsibilities to an independent commission in Arizona.

Following that decision, several bills in Michigan’s house and senate were filed by Democratic members with the intent of creating such commissions. None, however, are up for vote.

So there are two ways to change this, Ennis says – if that’s what voters want.

The first is by the legislature itself. 

The second would be a statewide ballot initiative. 

The League began hosting educational forums across the state last month, which continue until mid-November.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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