Michigan voters passed Proposal 2 to end gerrymandering, but this does not help voters for 2020. The lawsuit asks a court to declare the current electoral map unconstitutional. It also asks the court to require the state to redraw the lines fairly. Click here for more details or scroll towards bottom for a longer summary.
Click here to make a tax deductible donation to LWV Education Fund of Michigan to support our programs. To donate specifically for the lawsuit, write "Redistricting Lawsuit Fund" on the page where your dollar amount is typed in under "special instructions to seller".
These two maps show how the 8th district has changed over the years.
The location of district lines decide which voters vote for which representative. Changing the lines will change the relevant voters, and can change the identity, allegiance, and political priorities of a district's representative, and of the legislative delegation as a whole. Congressional districts and government legislative bodies should be apportioned substantially on population.
The League of Women Voters promotes transparent and accountable redistricting processes, and the end of hyper-partisan practices that don't benefit constituents. We believe responsibility for fair redistricting should be vested in an independent special commission, with membership that reflects the constituents within the district. The League works in states across the country to pass ballot initiatives to institute independent redistricting commissions.
American attempts to tailor district lines for political gain stretch back to the country's very origin. Patrick Henry, who opposed the new Constitution, tried to draw district lines to deny a seat in the first Congress to James Madison, the Constitution's primary author. Henry ensured that Madison's district was drawn to include counties politically opposed to Madison. The attempt failed, and Madison was elected. Politicians still carve -or attempt to carve - territory into districts for political gain, usually along partisan lines. This is called gerrymandering. Gerrymandering can lead to some serious consequences for the health of the democracy by allowing officials to select their voters rather than voters to elect their officials.
Voters did approve Proposal 2 on the November 2018 Michigan ballot. This ballot proposal calls for an Independent Commission to establish district lines. Here is the Ballot Language:
Statewide Proposal 18-2
A proposed constitutional amendment to establish a commission of citizens with exclusive authority to adopt district boundaries for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress, every 10 years.
This proposed constitutional amendment would:
- Create a commission of 13 registered voters randomly selected by the Secretary of State:
- 4 each who self-identify as affiliated with the 2 major political parties; and
- 5 who self-identify as unaffiliated with major political parties.
- Prohibit partisan officeholders and candidates, their employees, certain relatives, and lobbyists from serving as commissioners.
- Establish new redistricting criteria including geographically compact and contiguous districts of equal population, reflecting Michigan’s diverse population and communities of interest. Districts shall not provide disproportionate advantage to political parties or candidates.
- Require an appropriation of funds for commission operations and commissioner compensation.
Should this proposal be adopted? [ ] YES [ ] NO
The League of Women Voters of Michigan continues to educate Michigan voters about the need for redistricting reform. Redistricting is a complicated topic, but citizen involvement to make this process fair is critical. Click here to visit the Michigan League's Redistricting "Issue" page to read more about the process in Michigan. The League is committed to redistricting reform in Michigan and to working to form a diverse coalition.
On December 22, 2017, The League of Women Voters of Michigan and 11 individual voters filed a lawsuit against the State of Michigan in federal court in Detroit to end unfair, partisan gerrymandering of Michigan’s Congressional, state senate and state house districts.
“The Michigan League of Women Voters today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of voters throughout Michigan to end the practice of unfair, partisan gerrymandering,” said Judy Karandjeff, president of the Michigan League of Women Voters. “Michigan’s State House, Senate and Congressional districts are among the worst in the nation when it comes to partisan gerrymandering, and today’s lawsuit aims to fix the problem and restore voters’ rights to choose who best represents them. Ending partisan gerrymandering is critical to preserve our democracy and ensure every vote counts,” said Sue Smith, director of the League’s Redistricting Program.
The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the current districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and to ensure that the districts are redrawn in a fair fashion. Click here for the complete Press Release. Click here to read the Complaint.
On December 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood signed an order allowing a three judge panel to hear the case. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge R. Guy Cole, Jr., and two other judges will preside over the case. Read the Detroit News article here. Details about the progression of the lawsuit through the court can be found here.
Talk to people you know about redistricting and why lines should be drawn so we can pick our politicians instead of politicians picking us. Email us at info@LWVBrightonHowellArea.org with your questions and interest and we will help you become comfortable in talking about this important issue.