“The legislature’s increased polarization causes common sense programs that fight poverty to be rejected entirely. In practical terms, gerrymandering has led to state policies that result in crumbling roads, undermined school districts, polluted water, and executive takeovers at the local level.”
By Dorian Tyus
Our democracy depends on the passage of Proposal 2. To stay on top, the people in power have rigged the redistricting process, diluting the vote of everyday citizens. Proposal 2 aims to un-rig our districts. It was created by everyday citizens like you and me – not politicians, lobbyists, or special interest groups – to end the manipulation of our district maps. Proposal 2 puts more power in the voters’ hands, making politicians more accountable to us, not lobbyists or special interests.
Due to this rigged redistricting process commonly known as “gerrymandering,” voting power in Michigan is among the weakest in the nation. In 2016, nearly 50 percent of Michigan voters supported Democratic candidates for U.S. Congress. However, Republican candidates won approximately 64 percent of the congressional seats. In the same year, Democrats again received nearly 50 percent of the Michigan vote for state Senate, yet Republicans won approximately 71 percent of Senate seats. These numbers are clear; the explicit will of the people is being subverted.
As a direct result of gerrymandering, our “elected” officials are becoming more partisan and less responsive to the people. Due to the manipulation of our current maps, most elections are decided in primaries, putting the most extreme candidates in the best position to win. That means problem solvers – the kind of people who can work with members of the other party – are unlikely to be elected.
The legislature’s increased polarization causes common sense programs that fight poverty to be rejected entirely. In practical terms, gerrymandering has led to state policies that result in crumbling roads, undermined school districts, polluted water, and executive takeovers at the local level. The danger is clear, and the negative community effects can no longer be tolerated. Proposal 2 is a critical step toward creating a better Michigan by ending gerrymandering. Beginning November 6th, 2018, voters must choose their politicians, not the other way around.
Here’s how we do it. Proposal 2:
- Creates a commission of citizens consisting of four Democrats, four Republicans and five persons not affiliated with either party;
- Requires that the commission of citizens operate openly and independently in public meetings, before, during and after the creation of voting maps. Transparency is necessary for a healthy democracy;
- Prohibits politicians and lobbyists from serving on the commission for six years; conversely, commissioners are prohibited from running for public office five years after serving on the commission;
- Will allow citizens across the state to participate, and this diverse commission must reach consensus across party lines to approve the final district maps;
- Requires that the maps adhere to strict criteria, including the mandates of the Voting Rights Act, to protect against the dilution of minority votes;
- Specifies that district maps protect communities of interests and shall not provide any disproportionate advantage to political parties or candidates.
This is the people’s choice, and this is our time. Thousands of citizen volunteers collected more than 428,000 signatures to get Proposal 2 on the ballot. Trusted community members and organizations agree that voting yes on Proposal 2 will bring fairness, impartiality, and transparency into Michigan’s redistricting process.
Proposal 2 is supported by Republicans, Democrats and independents, the Michigan State Conference and Detroit Branch of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of Michigan, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the Michigan PTA, the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan, the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber and other diverse community stakeholders.
A “yes” vote for Proposal 2 will restore the strength of the people’s voice, forcing politicians to be more accountable and attentive to our needs. No more tricks conducted behind closed doors. Let’s remind politicians that they work for us and not for special interests and dark money donors. It’s time to reclaim our voice, Michigan. This Tuesday, flip over your ballot and vote Yes on 2. The lifeblood of our democracy depends on it. For more information, please visit www.yeson2.com.
Dorian Tyus is an attorney and advocate for voter equality.