SOME OF MICHIGAN’S LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS FAIL THE GERRYMANDERING TESTS

The political practice of gerrymandering has been getting a lot of attention this election year.

Gerrymandering is the practice of legislators manipulating the boundaries of their districts in order to give themselves a numerical advantage with registered voters.

Proposal 2 on the Michigan ballot this Nov 6th gives voters a chance to end the practice in our state and in its place establish a 13 member commission that would decide political boundaries.

As with all political issues and candidates, it is a challenge to cut through the rhetoric in order to find the truth. There are several groups Bridge Magazine, League of Women Voters, and Citizens Research Council of Michigan that are noted for their accuracy and objectivity in the political arena – just the facts.

To help us better understand gerrymandering in Michigan, we turn to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan is a privately funded, not-for-profit public affairs research organization, founded in 1916. The Citizens Research Council of Michigan is noted for the accuracy and objectivity of its research. Here is what they have to say about gerrymandering in Michigan.

“Although recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions leave open the question of whether and how the courts will handle partisan gerrymandering cases in the future, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan’s most recent report found the state’s legislative district boundaries suggest party influence at work.

“Quantifying the Level of Gerrymandering in Michigan” was released June 26, and is available on the Research Council’s website, crcmich.org.

“Briefly, our research found:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that partisan gerrymandering is subject to judicial review, but has not accepted a standard that can be used to evaluate whether any state redistricting plan violates the U.S. Constitution.
  • While the U.S. Supreme Court sent recent cases back to the district courts, it is likely new cases will attempt to set a standard for how the courts should evaluate gerrymandering.
  • Michigan’s congressional and legislative district maps fail several tests that are currently being discussed to evaluate partisan gerrymandering.

“Partisan gerrymandering, in which legislators charged with drawing district maps do so to give distinct advantage to one party over another, has emerged as an front-burner issue, not just in Michigan but around the country. Two cases, originating in Wisconsin and Maryland, made it onto the U.S. Supreme Court docket this term, but in a decision released in mid-June, the justices sidestepped ruling on the constitutionality of district maps, sending the issue back to lower courts.

“In Michigan, the Research Council looked at several different measurements of possible gerrymandering, and found that there is evidence the state’s congressional and legislative districts could be gerrymandered based on the t-test, the mean-median test, and the efficiency gap. Each showed that vote patterns in Michigan cannot be explained away by the natural sorting that occurs with Democrats in urban areas and Republicans in rural areas.

“Congressional and legislative districts often take eccentric forms that do not pass the eye test,” said Eric Lupher, president of the Citizens Research Council. “But districts may take on odd shapes for perfectly justifiable reasons. This report quantifies that the Michigan legislature has gone beyond justifiable factors in drawing districts to advantage one political party. This affects people’s perceptions of their government and the accountability of the elected officials to those people.”

“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, CRC aims to ensure sound and rational public policy formation in Michigan. For more information, visit www.crcmich.org.”

The objective of the Research Council has been to provide factual, unbiased, independent information on significant issues concerning state and local government organization and finance. The Research Council believes that the use of this information by voters and policymakers will lead to sound, rational public policy formation in Michigan.

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