Michigan redistricting proposal should be on November ballot, court rules

Katie Fahey

Katie Fahey of Voters Not Politicians explains redistricting at a town hall meeting in Pentwater. The Voters Not Politicians ballot initiative would create an independent panel that would draw congressional and legislative district lines, instead of legislators. The state Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the public should vote on the proposal this fall. Opponents promise to appeal. 

Image Credit: Ted Roelofs

Update: July 31: Republican Supreme Court justices have ties to Michigan gerrymandering group
Update July 6: Michigan Supreme Court will decide redistricting battle
Update: Bill Schuette asks Michigan Supreme Court to reject redistricting proposal
Update: Redistricting proposal to appear on Michigan ballot, only Supreme Court in way
Update: A Supreme Court challenge could be next for Michigan redistricting proposal

A ballot initiative to change the way Michigan draws district lines should go to a public vote in November, a state Court of Appeals court has ruled.

The decision, by a three-judge panel Thursday, found that a complaint urging the Board of State Canvassers not to certify the proposal is “without merit.” The group opposed to the measure promised a quick appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court in an effort to keep it off the November ballot.

    The Voters Not Politicians ballot proposal would amend Michigan’s constitution to create an independent commission responsible for determining district boundaries after the next census. Currently, the task is controlled by state legislators of whichever political party is in power when lines are redrawn every decade, though their decisions can be appealed.

    Related Michigan gerrmandering links:

    The group, Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), which has ties to the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, filed the complaint, arguing that the Voters Not Politicians proposal was a broad general revision of the constitution, not a amendment. General revisions require a state  constitutional convention to make changes rather than a ballot initiative.

    On Thursday, the appeals court disagreed. The Voters Not Politicians proposal clearly “does not seek to change fundamental law” but instead has a “single, narrow focus” to establish an independent citizen redistricting commission, they wrote.

    CPMC’s argument “merely seek(s) to shift the Court’s focus from the forest to the trees,” the judges wrote in their ruling. “The issue should not be made more complicated than necessary.”

    The state Board of State Canvassers has not yet scheduled their next meeting, but the Voters Not Politicians proposal will be on the agenda that day, said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.


    CPMC has promised to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, but as of early afternoon Friday they had yet to do so.

    “We think the Court of Appeals just got it wrong,” said Dave Doyle, spokesman for the group. “I don’t know exactly when (the appeal) will happen but it will happen soon.”

    Voters Not Politicians organizers said they’re confident that if the case continues on to the state’s highest court, they’ll still make it to the ballot.

    “Our legal team is certain that our constitutional amendment language meets every requirement and that Michigan voters deserve to vote yes to pass this important change,” the group’s executive director, Katie Fahey, said in a statement Thursday.

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    Dan Moerman
    Sat, 06/09/2018 - 9:34am

    It's remarkable how hard it is to do something right in Michigan. A fish farm in the Au Sable River. Copper mining in a wilderness area (!) in the UP. Clean water in Flint. Cleanup dioxane in the water in Ann Arbor. Turn around, and another simple, reasonable, thing can't be done. And the ludicrous thing will be done (I mean, copper mining in a wilderness area!!! And, of course, more gerrymandering because of the supreme court.)

    Sun, 06/10/2018 - 6:38am

    The decision by the Michigan Court of Appeals proves that there is something rotten in the Republican Ruled Chamber of Commerce. The Republican Chamber of Commerce does not want to fairly affect the political process that represents the interests of all Michigan voters - they want to squash the reasonable interests and voters rights of Michigan voters. This is just one more obvious denial of voters rights and interests. Republicans no longer care about the people of Michigan that voted for them. Republicans who supposedly represent the fair interests of Michigan voters no longer do that. Instead Republicans only care about those outside PAC's who give them money not to represent the People of Michigan but their own political futures. Republicans need to be able to put business and special interest groups like the Koch brothers in control of the rights of Michigan voters. So we need to get out the vote to regain control of our future for our children and grandchildren.

    Sun, 06/10/2018 - 8:22am

    "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;"
    Where does our Federal constitution mention the judiciary? Or even that there be congressional districts? Sounds to me as though the elected legislature can do anything it pleases provided that each rep represents 750k people (an unrelated SC finding provides for this.)
    Someone will draw lines and these lines will be partisan, and it may as well be drawn by those constitutionally constituted.
    And let them screw the opposition.

    Kevin Grand
    Mon, 06/11/2018 - 10:31am

    Here's what I'm waiting to hear answered:

    One, how did they distill at least seven pages of information down to 100-words to get onto the ballot?

    Better question, why did the democratic-party backed VNP not do this from the very beginning?

    And exactly, how does the democratic-party backed VNP propose EXACTLY to appoint a truly "independent" commission?

    Pump commission applicants full of Sodium Thiopental? Plug them into a machine? Make them watch Dr. Phil?

    The democratic-party backed VNP has been very low key when it comes to explaining what should be the lynch-pin of their proposal.

    Mon, 06/11/2018 - 1:09pm

    VNP is not backed nor endorsed by the Democratic Party.

    Kevin Grand
    Mon, 06/11/2018 - 7:17pm

    It doesn't need fo be to have the same end result.

    That been said, the past politics of those running VNP are very well known and have been reported multiple times previously here in The Bridge.

    Mon, 06/18/2018 - 10:00pm

    Voters Not Politicians is not endorsed by the Democrats or Republicans . VNP is just what the name says ! Voters Not Politicians .