Gerrymandering: Michigan Citizens Launch Grassroots Challenge

Transpartisan Note #76

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

Katie Fahey, dreading 2017 Thanksgiving with her Trump supporting Michigan family, prepared for the day by starting a Facebook political movement to challenge gerrymandering in Michigan.  She told her story on public radio (at 08:30:47 of the recording) which featured a civil discourse discussion with examples of how folks from different political persuasions find ways to work together.

Katie’s biggest surprise happened when her family joined her to take on Michigan gerrymandering.  She found that when partisans focused on a nonpartisan solution they could talk again. Feeling that divisiveness in politics had reached a critical point following the 2016 election she started her group Count MI Vote. She wants you to join her.

Count MI Vote has launched a group, Voters, Not Politicians, and a ballot initiative to create an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) to be in charge of the Michigan redistricting process. The proposed Commission follows guidelines established in California and six other states.  Arizona, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii and New Jersey, have forms of independent districting commissions.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg collaborated politically and financially to pass the California initiative.  Read our note about their effort here.  They also vowed to support gerrymandering reform efforts as they moved across the country.

In 2012, 71% of California voters supported that states Commission-created California Senate district maps when opponents sought to reject them by referendum.  In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court upheld an Arizona initiative and ruled that independent redistricting commissions were permitted under the U.S. Constitution.  Story here.

The Michigan commission championed by Katie Fahey will be made up of 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans and 5 Independents with representation from across the state and no political insiders. Read more about the Commission selection process here. Follow the referendum campaign here.

Katie say, “The people of Michigan have been locked out of effective change-making opportunities, but we have the power, energy, and drive to create a solution that ends gerrymandering and reinvigorates the very spirit of our democracy.”

Win, lose or draw now, Count MI Vote exemplifies local actions across the country that bridge partisan divides and reshape future politics. We call these actions Transpartisan.

(Photo found on the votersnotpoliticians Instagram account.)

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