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Redistricting ballot proposal to restrict gerrymandering


Map of Michigan's congressional districts. 

One of three proposals that will appear on the Nov. 6 Michigan general election ballot aims to establish an independent citizens redistricting commission. 

The proposal, which is backed by the group Voters Not Politicians and will appear on the ballot as Proposal 18-2, is designed to prevent "gerrymandering" by changing the way Michigan draws its state legislative and congressional districts. 

Gerrymandering is the manipulation of election districts in order to give an advantage to a particular political party. The term was created as a reaction to a redrawing of state senate election districts under Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry in 1812 after he signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his own political party.  

Michigan is one of 37 states where the state legislature has all the power when it comes to drawing district boundaries. This means that if any one party were in control of the state legislature, which is the case now with the Republicans currently holding the majority, then that party has complete control of how district lines are drawn across the entire state.  

If passed, this proposal would be a constitutional amendment for the state of Michigan. It would establish a new redistricting criteria where districts couldn’t give any advantages to any one political party or candidate. 

The proposal would create a commission of 13 registered voters consisting of four self-proclaimed democrats, four self-proclaimed republicans and five who self-identify as independent. Any partisan officeholders or candidates and anyone closely associated with them, would be prohibited from serving on the commission. 

Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the proposal back in June and ordered the Board of Canvassers to put the proposal on November’s ballot. 

The proposal was met with some opposition from Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution who argue that the proposal does more than just amend Michigan’s constitution. The organization is funded mostly by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, a corporate lobbying and advocacy group, and is not necessarily led by everyday voters.