By Mary Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
Voters Not Politicians, a self-proclaimed grass roots, non-partisan group that was started in November of 2016 says its focus is on making sure citizens’ votes actually count. On November 10, 2016 one woman, 27-year old Katie Fahey made a Facebook post regarding “Gerrymandering”, making people aware of what she says actually happens when citizens vote.
Gerrymandering, according to VNP, is a practice in which politicians manipulate voting districts to their advantage and making many citizens’ votes worthless. Politicians determine who is likely to vote for them, and create districts based on that factor according to VNP.
According to www.smithsonianmag.com, Gerrymandering is a term that comes from a set of election maps drawn in Massachusetts that Governor Elbridge Gerry passed in 1812. The Boston Gazette reportedly combined Governor Gerry’s surname with the ‘salamander’ shape of a Massachusetts’ state senate district. Governor Gerry knew that these maps unfairly benefited his party but approved them anyway. Gerrymandering is now used to define the manipulation of election maps to give one political party an unfair advantage.
VNP says that right now, politicians and lobbyist draw voting maps behind closed doors that directly benefit themselves instead of putting the interest of voters or communities of Michigan first. This process is protected in the Michigan Constitution say www.michiganradio.org, and Proposal 2 on this November’s ballot would amend the Constitution to establish an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
According to the Michigan Republican Party, they believe “the truth about ‘Voters Not Politicians’ is they are a front group for extreme Liberal Partisanship” – and add “All of the founding leaders are Democratic Party activists or donors.”
They also believe that VNP would make “Identity Politics” the law, and state that “Under VNP, political parties and groups will lobby that a district be drawn to protect ‘Communities of Interest’ which “will likely encourage segregation by defining ‘Communities of Interest’ based on religious, ethnic, sexual or racial differences.”
In terms of how this might affect people financially, they state that “The proposal will cost Michigan tax payers at least $5.5 million annually” and that this includes an annual salary of $44,000 each for the 13 part-time Redistricting Commissioners.
Another point they raise is that they believe no precinct delegate candidate, nor the parents, children, or spouse of a precinct delegate can participate in this process, and that this prohibition lasts six years, thereby prohibiting people from serving their party and their state.
They also believe that the proposal will actually increase gerrymandering, and that instead of following county, township and city lines, VNP groups voters together by “communities of interest”, and that VNP removes the current non-partisan standard of keeping counties, townships, and cities intact.
Because commissioners are chosen at random out of a pool of 10,000, they feel that it is akin to pulling a name out of a hat, where there is no known qualification of each chosen member, as long as they are not “forbidden” to vote as already stated.
Finally, the Michigan Republican Party believes that VNP’s “independent” Commission steals power from Michigan voters. They say that the proposal removes the right to appeal to the judiciary as well as removes the people’s representatives from the process, and the independent commission is 100% accountable to the people. They believe it will do whatever it wants with no recourse.
For more information, contact: The Michigan Republican party, 520 Seymour Ave., Lansing, MI 48933
According to https://www.freep.com, Proposal 2 was approved by the Michigan Supreme Court on July 31, 2016 to be on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot. If passed, it will amend the Michigan Constitution to create an Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission comprised of 13 registered voters, with a requirement to operate transparently and take input from Michigan citizens in a series of at least 10 open meetings to hear how they want to be represented before commissioners start to draw the maps. The final maps will need to again be rolled out publicly and will require approval from two commissioner representing each of the major political parties and two commissioners who do not identify with either of the major political parties.