WSW: Gerrymandering, Ballot Campaigns And Legal Challenges

Nov 2, 2017

Credit Tom Arthur/Wikicommons

If closer races for Congress and the state Legislature are the goal, then California may hold some lessons in how district boundaries are drawn. Bridge examined California’s system, which is similar to one proposed for Michigan. 


Bridge Senior Writer Ron French says California changed its system a decade ago. He says election results show more competitive races than in Michigan. French says closer races are one goal of the group Voters Not Politicians. Their ballot proposal would put an independent commission in charge of redistricting.

Michigan, like most states has lines drawn by elected officials, the legislature, governor or combination of the two. If one party has complete control, they can draw the lines to their advantage. French says that’s not new, but he says technology has made it easier.

Under the proposal from Voters Not Politicians, the commission would be made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and five people not affiliated with either party. The new boundaries would require a consensus of the commission, including two votes from both of the partisan representatives.

French says “almost without a doubt” Voters Not Politicians will get the 316,000 valid signatures from registered voters to put their proposal on next year’s ballot. But French says a legal challenge is likely. He says the argument they will make in court is that the changes are too broad. A similar argument was made in 2008, and kept a sweeping government reform proposal off the statewide ballot. French says it will be up to Appeals court or state Supreme Court to decide if the same applies to this initiative.

Voters Not Politicians will probably reach the signature goal by late fall or early December, according to French. He says the state will examine the signature to ensure that they are valid. French says if the proposal makes the ballot, then the legal challenges will likely begin.