3 hot political reforms not heading Michigan’s way

Laments that our political system is broken are common, and come from both parties. On the right, commentary is growing about a national “Article V convention” – described as a way for the states to call a constitutional convention without congressional approval. On the left, the issues coalesce mainly around making voting easier and money in politics. And new studies confirm the divide is deep and widening.

The political reform movement in the U.S. is broadly defined and mostly unorganized behind a single issue, but some common themes can be seen, among them:

1. Election reform. Two states, Washington and Colorado, have enacted significant changes in voting procedure in recent years.

Washington votes entirely by mail, and other states, mostly in the west, have some form of postal voting as an option. In Colorado, a package of reforms signed into law last year extends early voting, eases restrictions on registration and generally makes it easier and more convenient to cast a ballot.

2. Redistricting reform. Efforts to change the way congressional (or state legislative) districts are drawn following U.S. censuses are at least being discussed in many states, but California led the way with its citizens redistricting commission. While there have been questions about whether Democrats were able to game the commission in their favor, voters have approved not only redrawing congressional district boundaries, but also state legislative districts.

3. Campaign finance. New York was poised to change the way politics is funded in the Empire State, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushing a package that would have made matching funds available for all candidates, lowered contribution limits and instituted other changes designed to make ballot spots more accessible to more candidates. However, the legislature ended up passing only a pilot program, and only for one race.

Nationally, the Supreme Court has interpreted spending on campaigns as tantamount to speech. And two major decisions, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. the same defendant, unleashed a flood of corporate spending on campaigns through the lifting of contribution limits.

In Michigan last year, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson sought to add public-disclosure rules to so-called issue advertising, in which groups unaffiliated with individual candidates nevertheless advertise on behalf of them, or against their opponents. The legislature responded with a bill designed to prohibit such disclosure, and Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law in December.

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Comments

Matt
Thu, 06/19/2014 - 12:11pm
So by HOT reforms you mean what? A more effective real problem solving government? Do states that implement these changes have anything that they can point of improvement that we can look forward to. (Besides fewer political adds which is of questionable benefit). Or do they serve just to entrench other interests? Just guessing here but hot or trendy isn't really what most folks really care about, when it comes right down to it.
Duane
Fri, 06/20/2014 - 1:32am
Ms. Derringer seems to feel their are currently barriers to voting and yet she fails describe them. She has her answer, but I overlooked what it was to solve so how can I be sure she has the right answer? Ms. Derringer seems to not like our representative form of government because she wants to move legislators from the process of establishing districts and turn it over to the public. What is surprising is that she doesn't feel she can trust the readers to come to their own conclusions since she fails to describe the harm the current process has cause or describe how her mode has corrected problem their previous system created. It seems she is only willing to tell us what she wants from us and isn't interest in what we migth say or decide to do or what questions we might ask. It seems Ms. Derringer does feel the Supreme Court should be the final arbitor of law since she disagrees with their decision on what is included in free speech since she appears to want actions take that will subvert their decision. I get the sense that she feels money invariably determines elections. That makes me wonder if she reads the natioinal news. From what I can tell even as recently as last week it was shown that money does not control elections. It seems Rep Cantor had millions spend on his campaign while his opponent had less than a couple hundred thousand and yet Rep Cantor loss by a significant margin. That must be an inconvenient truth that just does seem to fit Ms. Derringer's thinking so some how it isn't part of her reality or at least not something that will influence her once she has her answer.
Fri, 06/20/2014 - 11:34am
Mr. Duane seems to be reading a lot into this article that just isn't there. Maybe Mr. Duane could try clicking some of the links to educate himself.
Nancy Derringer
Fri, 06/20/2014 - 11:39am
Duane, You're a frequent commenter here, and your contributions are welcome, but please: Making an argument based on what a writer "seems" to be saying is virtually the definition of a straw man. Don't assume.
Big D
Sun, 06/22/2014 - 9:51am
Campaign contributions/money as political speech is the height of crony capitalism...it is directly how the political establishment is played for a business purpose. The campaign managers are in league with the media...most every candidate/committee "knows" they need lots of money in order to buy a.) campaign managers, and b.) media services (advertising). Who told them? A.: Campaign Managers and the Media. Biggest news story: Who raised the most money? (for us).... Sometimes some of this cronyism has an impact on an election...usually it involves hyperbole and attack ads. Enough thoughtless people pay attention to it to make a difference. So sad. The form of political speech in elections should be limited to short essays about the candidates background, record, platform and promises. They should be accountable for fulfilling promises. But...this all would violate the First Amendment, and what we need is LESS regulations anyway.