Voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around. In Michigan, our politicians choose their voters.
Every 10 years, a US Census is conducted to measure how population shifts throughout the country. When this data is collected, states are required to redraw their voting district maps - a process called redistricting - to ensure equal population. Michigan’s politicians have taken advantage of this power and draw their own districts to choose their voters for political advantage.
Allowing politicians to draw their own districts is a conflict of interest and it puts the fox in charge of the henhouse. When politicians have the power to draw voting maps, they have the power to hand-pick their voters. Here’s what happens:
- Michigan’s legislators meet behind closed doors with no public insight.
- If one party has the majority of power in the state legislature, they have the power to control the entire redistricting process with no input from minority parties.
- They adhere to federal laws for equal population and minority representation, but are able to stretch and skew guidelines that are not enforceable. They don’t even have to prove that they’re following these guidelines.
- They carve up communities to draw maps that give them an almost unbeatable advantage in future elections, giving them the ability to ignore constituents and cater to lobbyists and donors instead.
Gerrymandering benefits politicians and it hurts the rest of us, regardless of our political preference.
Partisan redistricting, also known as gerrymandering, occurs when politicians draw voting map lines unfairly to benefit themselves or their political party.
When politicians choose their voters, our votes don’t matter and our voices aren’t heard. As voters, we’re hurt the most by gerrymandering. Here’s why:
- Our votes don’t count and we don’t have a voice. Politicians no longer count on our votes to get elected. They profile voters with precision to guarantee just enough votes for re-election. When voters don’t get to choose their politicians, politicians have all the power. This results in inattentive and ineffective politicians who don’t represent their voters.
- Our representation is unbalanced. The majority party in power in Michigan is able to turn 50% of the vote into almost 70% of the elected positions. There is an imbalance between the overall preferences of Michigan’s voters and their representation in government and both parties take advantage when they get the chance.
- Our choices are limited. In the 2016 election, zero congressional seat elections were determined by a margin of victory less than 10%. That’s because politicians pack their opponent’s voters into as few districts as possible and spread the remaining voters across the rest. This gives us uncompetitive elections where incumbents win year after year, giving voters fewer options for new voices or new ideas.
- Our state becomes divided. When we are divided into districts heavily populated by one party, we find ourselves in echo-chambers of political opinions. Our politicians are able to lean heavily to each side of the spectrum, leading to more polarization where parties’ needs are more important than the voter’s needs. This leads to gridlock and ineffective decision-making in Lansing and Washington D.C.
“All political power is inherent in the people.”
Although politicians in Michigan are taking advantage of the voters, we as voters have more power than we are led to believe. The Michigan Constitution starts with the phrase, “All political power is inherent in the people.” Michiganders have the power and right to participate in direct democracy through a citizen-led ballot initiative, where a proposal for a constitutional amendment is added as a ballot measure to the next general election after 315,654 valid signatures are collected in 180 consecutive days. Voters Not Politicians is leading the charge to end gerrymandering in Michigan through a citizen-led ballot initiative to amend Michigan’s Constitution in the 2018 election.