Michigan ballot proposal to end gerrymandering

Detroit Free Press — A group says it wants to amend Michigan’s constitution to end political gerrymandering of election districts, taking the job of drawing the districts away from politicians and putting it in the hands of an independent commission.

The group Voters Not Politicians would have to collect close to 316,000 valid signatures to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot.

“I think Michigan voters overall have been frustrated at points with their government,” and “don’t trust their elected representatives with drawing election maps,” Katie Fahey, the group’s president and treasurer, told the Free Press today.

The proposal would establish a 13-member independent citizens commission on which independent voters would have five members, and the two major parties would each have four.

Elected officials, lobbyists, party officials and other political insiders would be ineligible to serve on the commission, which would hold public hearings before approving proposed district maps by majority vote, with at least two votes required from each of the three groups represented on the commission.

 While county lines and other municipal boundaries now form the building blocks of election districts, the commission would look to other factors, such as “communities of interest,” and seek to create districts that are politically competitive.

Fahey said her group has submitted proposed ballot language to the Board of State Canvassers but has not yet received a date for a public hearing.

Drawing of Michigan’s electoral districts is now controlled by lawmakers who control the state Legislature, with disputes resolved by the Michigan Supreme Court, whose members run on a nonpartisan ballot but are nominated by state political parties.

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