Want to redraw Michigan’s political lines? Find out how during meetings in Muskegon & Muskegon Heights this week

Photo via Voters Not Politicians

Big changes are coming to Michigan’s political landscape—and you can be part of it.

Following a massive grassroots operation started by one Michigan woman, Katie Fahey, voters in November 2018 overwhelmingly approved an amendment that aims to end gerrymandering by significantly revising the way the state draws its political lines. A new 13-member independent redistricting commission will determine how Michigan’s Congressional districts, and the state’s House and Senate districts, will be drawn for the 2022 elections.

As Michigan prepares to form its Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission after the 2020 U.S. Census, Voters Not Politicians—the nonpartisan, grassroots group that led the charge to pass the redistricting amendment—will hold a series of meetings in Muskegon and Muskegon Heights on how local residents can get involved with our state’s changing political landscape beginning Tuesday, Dec. 3.

The meetings will take place:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 3, 6:30-7:30pm, at Hackley Public Library (316 W. Webster Ave. in downtown Muskegon). More info and RSVP by clicking here.
  • Thursday, Dec. 5, 6pm, at Muskegon Heights City Hall (2724 Peck St.). This event is sponsored by the  Black Women’s Political Caucus.
  • Saturday, Dec. 7, 1-2pm, at the Muskegon Heights Library (2808 Sanford St.) More info and RSVP by clicking here.

At each of the meetings, participants will be able to learn more about the citizens redistricting commission, the application process to be a part of the commission, and more. Volunteers will be on site to help those who are interested to apply for the commission; to do so, you’ll need to bring a photo ID.

These meetings, which are being held throughout Michigan, come after Katie Fahey, a 2011 graduate of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, in 2016 launched an effort to amend the state constitution to form the nonpartisan redistricting group. What started as Fahey’s Facebook post following the 2016 election turned into an all-volunteer effort to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures to put Proposal 2 on the ballot in November 2018.

“The people of Michigan have been locked out of effective change-making opportunities, but we have the power, energy, and drive to create a solution that ends gerrymandering and reinvigorates the very spirit of our democracy,” Fahey said on the Voters Not Politicians website.

Fahey served as Voters Not Politicians’ executive director before recently leaving to lead The People, a national group that aims to initiate policy change based on the public’s priorities.

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw new political district lines beginning in 2021, for the 2022 election. The group is slated to be comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five citizens who are not affiliated with either party.

Advocates of the reform say the new commission will help to ensure more fairly drawn districts by transferring the redistricting power from state lawmakers to a citizen-led group. Following a redistricting process led by a GOP-controlled state legislature in 2001 and 2011, Michigan ended up with some of the most partisan voting districts in the country.

“The Michigan Senate maps have more pro-Republican bias than 99.7 percent of all state Legislature maps across the country in the last 45 years,” Christopher Warshaw, a George Washington University political scientist, testified last year during a civil trial in U.S. District Court in Detroit that aims to determine whether Michigan’s political districts were drawn illegally in 2011, Bridge Magazine reported.

Republicans have argued that Democrats sweeping the state in the November 2018 election debunks the idea of illegal gerrymandering, and Michigan GOP leaders have been fighting the redistricting commission in court with two lawsuits. Republican party officials sued the state of Michigan to block the redistricting commission, saying the commission as currently defined is unconstitutional. The commission would ban people who, in the last six years, ran for office; were an elected official, a political party officer, a paid political consultant, or a registered lobbyist; or worked for the legislature. Individuals too could not serve on the redistricting commission if they are a parent, step-parent, child, step-child, or spouse of a person who has done any of the aforementioned things.

At the end of November, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, denied Republicans’ push to delay the redistricting commission.

For more information about Voters Not Politicians’ upcoming events, click here.

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