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Ballot proposal from Voters Not Politicians seeks to bring an end to gerrymandering

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As November approaches, various groups in support of candidates and proposals are ramping up their activity. Voters Not Politicians is no exception. Last Monday, volunteers from the group made an appearance on Michigan Tech’s campus to pass out literature and explain their cause. The grassroots group is working all around the state in favor of Proposal 2, which aims to eliminate gerrymandering by creating an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
The term gerrymandering was coined in 1812, and has been a talking point ever since. It refers to voting districts drawn in a way that benefits one political party over another, and is used frequently throughout the United States today. Both Democrats and Republicans do this, resulting in elections that do not accurately represent the electorate. This inequality becomes clear in circumstances like the 2016 election where, despite both major parties receiving roughly the same amount of votes, Republicans won 64% of the Michigan congressional elections.
How elections like this come to be is complex, and so is the proposed solution to them. Proposal 2, which will be on the ballot this November, aims to amend the Michigan constitution by redesigning the way voting districts are drawn. Right now, these lines are drawn by politicians every ten years, after the census is taken. The issue with this system is that if one party is in control of the state legislature they have complete jurisdiction over the process and are not accountable to anyone. Details like budget and methodology do not have to be reported.
The proposed amendment would attempt to make the process transparent by requiring meetings of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to be public hearings, as well as making it mandatory that they report out all their maps and the data used to create new districts. The issue of parties in control drawing the maps to give themselves an advantage would also be addressed, since the commission would be made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five unaffiliated or third-party voters. Any politicians, lobbyists, or their immediate family would not be permitted to serve on the commission, and all maps would have to be agreed on by at least two members of both major parties and two unaffiliated voters.
As previously mentioned, the word “gerrymandering” has been around for over 200 years. It originated when the Governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry, approved a redistricting bill that benefited his party. One of these was said to resemble a salamander, thus the word “gerrymander” came to be. The term went from a jab at a politician to a political weapon that Voters Not Politicians is attempting to disassemble.

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The Student News Site of Michigan Technological University
Ballot proposal from Voters Not Politicians seeks to bring an end to gerrymandering