Gerrymandering: Proposal 2 Analyzed and Broken Down

The Citizens Research Council released its first analysis of the November 2018 statewide ballot questions – the redistricting reform constitutional amendment promoted by the group Voters Not Politicians

Founded in 1916, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan works to improve government in Michigan. The organization provides factual, unbiased, independent information concerning significant issues of state and local government organization, policy, and finance. By delivery of this information to policymakers and citizens, the Citizens Research Council aims to ensure sound and rational public policy formation in Michigan.

Here is their analysis of Proposal 2 which will be on the Michigan ballot this November:

  • “Proposal 2 would reform the state redistricting system by creating a citizen-led commission. It also outlines the process the commission must use in creating redistricting plans for congressional and state legislative districts, and enshrines in the constitution the criteria that the plans must follow.
  • “If Proposal 2 passes, the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission would be created and responsible for redistricting starting in 2021, removing the legislature from the process. The 13 member-commission would be randomly selected from a pool of applicants; four members self-identified Republican, four self-identified Democrat and five who do not affiliate with either major political party. The commission must host a minimum of 10 public meetings before developing the plans.
  • “If Proposal 2 is rejected, the legislature would continue to be responsible for redistricting. Guidelines would be set by the legislature, but could be modified by future legislatures through statutory changes. Michigan would continue to lack binding constitutional guidelines.

“A group calling itself Voters Not Politicians gathered almost 400,000 signatures in 2017 to qualify for the November ballot this year. Proposal 2 is popularly known as an anti-gerrymandering measure that would reform how the state draws district boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts.

“Proposal 2 would take the job of drawing district lines away from the state legislature and put it in the hands of a citizen-led commission that would work independently from the legislature. It would set criteria to guide how the commission would draw maps and places many requirements on the commission to increase the transparency of the redistricting process. Drawbacks include an escalation in state costs and the fact the commissioners would not be elected, and hence not directly accountable to voters. Instead, they would be selected at random, and could only be held accountable by other commissioners.

“The Research Council recently released a separate report on partisan gerrymandering in Michigan. We found that, under three commonly accepted measures of the practice, the state does have a high level of gerrymandering in both its state and federal legislative districts.

“It is clear that Michigan’s congressional and legislative districts have been affected by gerrymandering,” said Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council. “This is bad for our democracy. Gerrymandering erodes public trust in the political process. When groups feel the system is designed to limit their voice, or prevent them from electing candidates, it can lead to citizen disengagement and weaken the representational aspect of our governmental system.

“The question is what to do about it” continued Lupher. “Proposal 2 offers electors a choice of transferring responsibility for redistricting from the legislature to an independent commission. If voters choose not to adopt this measure, we’ll have to seek another solution at a different time.”

“The Research Council will, as it has in previous election years, be releasing similar reports on Proposal 1 (marijuana legalization) and Proposal 3 (voting rights). These are among our most popular communiques to the general public, with over 245,000 downloads in 2012 when voters faced six ballot measures.

“The Citizens Research Council of Michigan does not take positions on ballot issues. In analyzing these ballot issues, the Citizens Research Council hopes to provide more information so that voters can make better informed decisions in formulating their votes.”

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