For immediate release
Contact: Katie Fahey
Phone: (616) 227-0576
100k signatures in 25 days: Anti-gerrymander proposal has momentum
GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- In just a few short weeks, more than 100,000 Michigan voters have signed onto a petition to put on the ballot a measure to end a common abuse of political power and ensure fairer elections.
The nonpartisan group Voters Not Politicians announced today that it has already topped 100,000 signatures in its petition drive, doing so in just 25 days after it received as to form approval from the Michigan Bureau of Elections. The group needs 315,654 signatures to place on the November 2018 ballot a proposed amendment to the Michigan State Constitution that would end a practice known as gerrymandering, where politicians manipulate voting district boundaries to their own advantage.
"We've been averaging more than 4,000 signatures a day since we started the petition drive on Aug. 17. That's just incredible," said Katie Fahey, chief organizer for Voters Not Politicians. "That shows how eager voters in this state are for reform and how receptive they are to this proposal."
New legislative district boundaries are drawn every ten years to reflect population changes resulting from the U.S. Census. In Michigan, that process is now controlled by the state Legislature and Governor, and has often resulted in districts designed to lock in the advantages of one party or the other.
The Voters Not Politicians proposal would take authority for drawing such boundaries away from politicians and place it in the hands of an Independent Citizen's Commission, balanced among Republicans, Democrats and voters who align with neither party, to prevent any group from manipulating the boundaries to its own advantage.
Gerrymandering gets its name from the salamander-like shapes that result when politicians create contorted boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts in order to secure an advantage for themselves. They seek to cluster their opponent's supporters into as few districts as possible, while spreading out their own backers in order to have a smaller, but decisive, advantage in the others. As a result, they can remain in power even when losing the support of voters overall.
"Voters should choose their own politicians, not the other way around," Fahey said. "When politicians control the process, they can create districts dominated by their supporters while marginalizing the opposition. They can literally choose their own voters. It’s time for a fair and transparent process that gives voters back their voices."
Volunteer petition circulators with Voters Not Politicians have been gathering signatures at a variety of public events since the drive was launched on Aug. 17, appearing at festivals, sporting events and other public locations where people gather. You can find where to sign at their website http://www.votersnotpoliticians.com/signingevents. The group has six months to gather the 315,654 signatures needed to place the amendment on the Nov. 2018 ballot.
About Voters Not Politicians - Voters Not Politicians is a registered ballot committee dedicated to introducing and passing a constitutional amendment for nonpartisan redistricting reform in Michigan. For more information, visit www.votersnotpoliticians.com.