How does Gerrymandering disenfranchise the voters?

Michigan campaign seeks to restore democratic power to citizens

This is not a mathematical puzzle, nor is it a trick question. Parties win a disproportionate number of seats thanks to a process called gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a process used by politicians to redefine electoral districts. They are often set in such a way that a particular party is preferred. And Michigan makes some of the worst use of it compared to any other US state.

Michigan is one of the 37 states in the United States that have the right to establish electoral constituencies to speak to the legislature, and hence the party with the most seats in parliament. In order to increase the chances of winning the next election, many electoral districts are determined by the ruling party in such a way that their voters are in the majority in the new districts. Opposition voters are concentrated in fewer districts. The result of these processes is not only bizarre-looking constituency maps, but also an unbalanced distribution of voters. The problem is obvious - whichever party has the majority ensures that it can keep it in the next election. Voting after election is manipulated in such a way that voters feel incapacitated because their vote does not count in a system in which there are such non-competitive elections.

The initiative Voters Not Politicians wants to change that - and end the manipulative system of gerrymandering once and for all and restore democratic integrity in Michigan. Voters Not Politicians is an independent, impartial campaign that seeks to re-regulate the process of establishing constituencies with a new amendment to the Constitution. In Michigan, changes to the constitution through citizen groups are allowed, with organizers having 180 days to collect 315,654 signatures to collect a vote.

Katie Fahey, President and Founder of Voters Not Politicians, says the campaign has received incredible support. What started out as a simple Facebook post resulted in a "support explosion across Michigan from virtual strangers." Voters Not Politicians has collected an average of three signatures per minute since it was launched in August, has now collected signatures from all 83 districts in Michigan and is thus approaching a vote on the topic in November 2018 in large steps.

"Gerrymandering is of fundamental importance to the people of Michigan," says Fahey. Together with the heavily "gerrymandered" constituencies, Michigan is regularly voted one of the most opaque states in the United States. A definitive end to the politically tinged demarcation lines in the constituencies would reduce the loss of confidence and the transparency deficit and bring the decision-making power in elections back where it belongs - with the citizens. "Our greatest success would be a system that we can trust again - a fair, transparent system in to which all voices are heard. "

Michigan had a double surprise in the 2016 general election. Bernie Sanders surprisingly beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and Donald Trump beat Clinton in November - the first Republican to win in Michigan in 30 years. "The 2016 election showed that people want something different. Michigan voters are frustrated with the status quo," said Fahey. "We keep hearing people say that Gerrymandering is the reason they don't vote. They feel disenfranchised because they feel the system has been manipulated. That was the heavy message in 2016. That is the main reason that we have such broad support from all sides. The mood against the "manipulated, anti-establishment" "is there. There is a lot of frustration and people no longer just want to watch from the sidelines."

So what's the solution? Voters Not Politicians proposes an independent and impartial 13-member citizens' commission for the fair determination of electoral districts. The 13-member commission would be composed of 4 Republican members, 4 Democratic members and five independent members. The Commission is also made up of randomly selected citizens and citizens who have applied. Elected officials, lobbyists and other political insiders are not authorized to be representatives on this commission.

Before the bill was finalized, Voters Not Politicians held 33 town hall meetings across Michigan in 33 days, including online, and many additional meetings have taken place since then. Each meeting begins with a debate and discussion about the problem and ends with a survey among the participants, in which everyone can give their opinion on how to solve the problem. Fahey explains, "Experts are helping to formulate the law, but thousands of people co-wrote this proposal. We have direct democracy even within the campaign."

Voters Not Politicians are supported by over 3,000 trained volunteers, at least half of whom are volunteering for the first time. "We have 76-year-old volunteers, but we also have volunteers who just turned 18." Fahey points out. "Our volunteers represent all generations, and many of them just wish someone had told them when they were younger that they didn't need permission to change anything. These are people who really believe in fairness and transparency and every voice should be heard. These beliefs are also used as a benchmark in the work for this campaign. "

Fahey adds that the campaign raised a total of $ 300,000. "US $ 100,000 was donated by our volunteers, each giving as much as they could. Voters Not Politicians is 100% funded by individual donations. We have 13 times as many individual donors as other initiatives in Michigan." The campaign also inspired people, so some chose to run for elections themselves.

“Everything that is in the policy to end gerrymandering is also in our campaign,” Fahey says. Voters Not Politicians is proud to be as transparent as possible and that citizens themselves wrote the policy and shaped the campaign. Fahey says that people were surprised to know that they could propose a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering. "It's your right as a citizen to petition the government! It is a feeling across the political aisle that change is needed and that people themselves can bring that change. " Not only is Voters Not Politicians putting the power back in the hands of people, but they are also educating Michiganders in their power and right to participate in direct democracy.

Everything that is in our proposal to end Gerrymandering, we have also made standards in our campaign, "says Fahey. Voters Not Politicians pride themselves on being as transparent as possible and that citizens themselves wrote the bill and the campaign for it Fahey says people were surprised they could propose a constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering. "It is your civil right to turn to the government! People of all political stripes feel that change is necessary and that they can bring about change themselves. "Voters Not Politicians not only put power back into the hands of the people, but also make sure that the people of Michigan learn more about their rights to participate and how they can influence direct democracy.