Anti-gerrymandering group collects enough signatures to force constitutional amendment vote
In an effort to abolish gerrymandering, an all-volunteer group of activists has collected hundreds of thousands of voter signatures to overhaul redistricting in Michigan. Voters Not Politicians, a ballot committee opposed to the partisan gerrymandering of congressional and legislative districts, turned in over 400,000 signatures at the state Bureau of Elections Monday to force a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot.
“Since we started online we have quickly gotten hundreds of people from across the state interested," Katie Fahey, the president and founder of Voters Not Politicians said. "From the first day we had people in UP, Benton Harbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, everywhere. And I think it’s just that people are ready for change.”
She adds that since the campaign started back in January, both Republicans and Democrats alike have supported the petition.
“We just have seen that people want to be able to do something, they really like that it’s non-partisan too and we really see people from across the aisle, not only volunteering, but being excited to sign,” Fahey said.
The Legislature and governor now control the once-a-decade redistricting process, which has led to seats that are drawn to guarantee as many comfortable, uncompetitive districts as possible.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, a commission of citizens would handle redistricting. Having already procured the number of signatures needed to ensure the amendment is on the ballot, the Voters Not Politicians campaign has achieved what it set out to do---leaving it up to the voters next November.
“We are hoping that the people in Michigan vote ‘yes’ on November 6, 2018," Fahey said. "So we can now have an independent citizen’s commission instead of politicians drawing the lines themselves behind closed doors which is what we have right now.”
According to a 2017 report from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, Michigan, is one of the top three states in the nation whose congressional districts consistently have “the most extreme levels of partisan bias.”