Election reform critical to restoring public trust

The truth is always necessary – even when it hurts. The Center for Michigan’s recent report, “Fractured Trust: Lost faith in state government, and how to restore it,” was by far the darkest and most pessimistic we’ve ever issued.

The outcome of 125 small community conversations and two large polls, more than 4,700 Michiganders, concluded state government is simply not living up to public expectations and that they don’t expect government to deliver on many of its key missions: oversight over elementary, secondary and higher education, protection of public health, services for low-income people and fostering economic growth.

Even more troubling, participants expressed profound distrust that state government and our leaders have the ability – or even the will – to restore trust in our public bodies.

Two reform measures received majority support: Fixing our current emergency manager system that is judged deficient in balancing local accountability with proper financial management, and tightening up our campaign finance reporting system to protect elections from the widespread swish of secret “dark money” from special interest donors.

Reforming both is without any doubt a part of any program to restore public trust in our government.

But what is puzzling is lack of consensus on how best to implement two much more far-reaching reforms: Term limits for officeholders and redistricting, the once-in-a-decade process of drawing legislative districts that has resulted in a badly gerrymandered and unrepresentative system.

Strict term limits – six years for state representatives and eight for state senators and the governor – were added to the state Constitution a generation ago. The net effect – placing a premium on legislative inexperience – has been criticized for years by virtually everybody who has had anything to do with Lansing, including many lawmakers themselves.

Michigan residents in our research agreed. Three quarters of participants told us they had “low” or “very low trust in the ability of term limits to result in effective legislative leadership.

Just last week, for example, a senior Republican legislative leader told me, “there is essentially no institutional memory and far too many members simply don’t know how to do their job effectively.” Another, however, mocked any chance of changing the system: “Anybody who thinks the legislature is going to put longer term limits on the public ballot had better take a quick reality course. It’s political suicide.”

Maybe so, but if ultra-strict term limits result in governmental incompetence and legislative shortsightedness, Michiganders who mistrust state government might want to think hard about a basic reason this is so. Fixing term limits won’t be easy, as they’re embedded in the state Constitution.  And powerful out-of-state outfits like U. S. Term Limits are always ready to attack any suggested changes. But if we’re serious about reforming our system to increase public trust, we’d better start working on it.

Equally so with gerrymandering, the practice universally followed by both parties (when they get the chance) of stacking the electoral deck to make sure one party or the party in power controls the ways legislative district boundaries are set up.

The results of gerrymandering are persistent and pernicious. Gerrymandered districts are set up to ensure one party wins, regardless of majority opinion in any given district. Minority and independent voters are shut out. And office-holders in gerrymandered districts can ignore the opinions of their constituents just as long as their partisan base holds firm.

For example, The Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-right Republican members of Congress, last week successfully thwarted President Trump’s efforts to repeal Obamacare. Most caucus districts are heavily gerrymandered; in 2016, 43 of the 45 caucus members who voted to depose then-Speaker of the House John Boehner won their districts by an average of 38 percent.

Gerrymandered districts are by definition unrepresentative. In Michigan, for example, results from the elections of 2014 and 2016 for the state House reflect the results of gerrymandered district lines. Despite narrow partisan splits in voting results for both years, Republicans wound up with overwhelming 63-47 majorities in the House.

Measured by The Center for Michigan’s survey results, the public disapproves. Some 84 percent of community conversation participants said they had “low” or “very low” trust of fair representation in the state legislature. Some 57 percent told us they favored reforming how legislative districts are drawn.  

For years, there has been a persistent undercurrent of grumbling in Michigan about both term limits and gerrymandering. Our community conversations did not conclusively show a majority of opinion in favor of any particular reform proposal, although that may be the result of limited public discussion.

Until policy makers and, more important, ordinary citizens come together and start ringing the bell for serious, far-reaching reforms instead of pussyfooting around the edges, we’ll have a hard time regaining the trust of our people in the governance and management of our state.  We’d best get started right now … before it’s too late.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Tue, 03/28/2017 - 8:44am

Efforts to end partisan gerrymandering, and replace with a citizen-controlled system of drawing political maps, are well underway. VotersNotPoliticians.com is holding dozens of Town Halls statewide to gather final input on a plan that will end political gamesmanship in drawing of our legislative and congressional district boundaries.

Jean Howard
Tue, 03/28/2017 - 9:06am

Well said Phil! If we could have congressional districts based solely on population with no preference to party demographics, we would have much better representation for all citizens. Would love to see this happen in my lifetime!

Le Roy G. Barnett
Tue, 03/28/2017 - 9:22am

Here is a possible solution to gerrymandering. I graduated from the Geography Department at Michigan State University with a specialty in cartography. There is no doubt in my mind that the students and/or staff there could program a computer to draw electoral boundaries in a fair and non-partisan way. Perhaps two or three different versions could be produced (based on slightly different models or inputs), and the legislature could decide which one makes the cut. I don't see politicians surrendering this power, but the mapping could be done by a neutral entity.

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 12:49pm

Remember Leroy and the rest of you, the recent thrust of Gerrymandering started as a requirement to create minority voting districts from I believe the Voting Rights Act. To no surprise this was then used a means to create not only minority but concentrated Democratic districts. You can't have it both ways. If you want to not violate City/ county etc. boundaries in creating voting districts, fine but then you can't use these enclaves to benefit the other side either. But don't spend too much time on this program, some (lefty) judge will ultimately throw it out.

Mike Wall
Tue, 03/28/2017 - 9:55am

As much as I dislike term limits I believe that the gerrymandering is the biggest threat to our democracy. As Phil mentioned, the far right and left are able to control primary elections. The net result is a few individuals and groups who do not represent the majority of people. This adds to the gridlock in Lansing and Washington because these representatives, on both the right and the left can not find the middle ground.

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 11:36am

Well I agree with your position on gerrymandering, as a computer program would produce a completely neutral map. Those that require a specific race to win a district may not like it but there is a cost to everything.

I totally disagree with your position on term limits. Everyone always says it is so easy to vote a person out of office, but with our primary system and candidates being chosen almost before the primary vote, it is near impossible to get an incumbent out of office. A better system might be to have a board select the educational and experience requirements that candidates must meet before being placed on the ballot

Jeremy Gordon Heiken
Tue, 03/28/2017 - 12:03pm

Well said. In the list of items that would help would be (1) campaign finance reform to remove the conflict of interest due to the magnitude of money involved, (2) open primaries & (3) improved voter participation by expanding voting opportunities (mail/internet, absentee, additional dates).

Note that voting lines were too long in multiple locations in 2016 that I had direct knowledge of from Dexter to Detroit - such that well-intentioned votes were lost. Those most likely to be lost were working families with children who had less flexibility in taking multiple hours out of the 1 day available in order to cast a ballot.

And in 2014, we had the most expensive US Senate election (Land vs. Peters) that was also the least informative. A expensive dual in TV time and no public access to one of the candidates who was incapable of discussing policy positions. More money in the system does NOT improve the quality of the election process.

Art Spalding
Tue, 03/28/2017 - 1:26pm

First, I have advocated for a constitutional convention to address these and other issues, but was unsuccessful in 2010. How about getting ready for 2026. As to term limits, there is a solution that I have been addressing for 10 years. My solution for term limits for the Legislature is much broader. Since the rulings of the US Supreme Court in 1963 regarding “one man, one vote”, the provisions of the Michigan constitution creating Senate districts based 80% on population and 20% on geographic area (intended to give greater voting strength to rural areas) has been unenforceable and Senate districts are created based solely on population, the same as the House districts. This is significantly different from the federal Congress on which it was first modeled, where the Senate has two members for each state, giving greater influence to the smaller states. My first proposal is to abolish the Senate and reduce the House to 81 members. Why do we need two legislative bodies, both based strictly on population? Do counties, cities or townships have 2 legislative bodies? Do corporations have 2 governing boards? Eliminating the Senate and reducing the size of the House is an immediate money saver which will continue every year into the future. Next, I would provide for the new House members to have 6 year terms, with a limit of 2 terms. By having a body divisible by 3, the terms can be staggered so that 1/3 of the House would be elected every 2 years. A side benefit is you would never need a Lieutenant Governor to be a tie breaker. I believe such an arrangement has the following benefits, not necessarily in this order: saves money, avoids the conflict between 2 legislative bodies, reduces the need for campaigning and campaign funds, encourages leadership from experienced legislators, prevents the downside of dictatorial control by those who will likely never be voted out of office, and brings in fresh blood in small numbers at a time ( which is a real problem in our current House). There would need to be transition rules but that would not be a major part of the objective. Will you get on board Phil?

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 3:28pm

At first blush absolutely! These ideas make a lot of sense. It's not like the State Senate confirms judges and ratifies treaties. (Does the US Senate do that anymore?) But second thought why not have the State Senate take over from the voters and ratify judges, nominated by the governor? God knows the voters don't have a clue about them (and no one could blame them!) Or maybe have the Senate exist only to repeal bad and outdated laws? Current function makes no sense.

Wed, 03/29/2017 - 7:49pm

Why do you think the Senate under any Party will do better than the general public?

What is needed is a set of criteria that people can use when assess in candidates for any office; a description of the roles, a listing of legal responsibilities, knowledge and skills that would be applicable, and even about personal traits. I would like to see a public conversation by Bridge readers to offer their ideas, but that does fit the purpose of Bridge.

If you doubt the need for such criteria, simply watch the US Senate current assessment process of the Supreme Court nominee. It seems that are least some of the Senators only care about the politics of the candidate rather then a legal concerns, any particular special knowledge and skills the candidate may have, or even about he relates/discuss with other judges about cases to get differing perspectives.

When the assessments are based in politics I will always defer to the public, their collective wisdom consistently proves better than that of an small cliche.

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 7:51am

Duane. Given that the public doesn't even know the names of their State Senators in the majority of cases, assuming any public knowledge what so ever about the quality of the judges they are asked to vote is a super stretch! I grant you watching the current Supreme court "deliberations" clearly shows that quality of the individual judge is irrelevant and it all fall down to direction and balance of the court, but at least that is based on something rather than not voting (the vast majority) or the eeny meanie method that voters (myself included) use when asked to vote on a given judgeship. Futher If you've noticed the fact is that the majority of these judge positions are in fact uncontested - so what choice are you really exercising?

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 2:04pm

If there were a set of criteria that people [at least some] could use, could focus on by asking questions related them, potential candidates could evaluate themselves against, could campaign on, etc. would we have a starting point to begin to draw attention to, establish expectations for voters, encourage media to pay attention to?

We need that first step, that point to crystallize attention, that seed. Once we have that then it can nurtured, by giving those voters who do know the name of the judicial candidate that is in their district something to work with and something to share with friends that may start others focusing.

It is about giving people something to use, giving them some minimum knowledge and a means to feel a bit more confident to act.

It won't start out as perfect, nothing does, it will never be perfect, nothing is, but is creates a new way to get voters engaged.

Change comes from small steps use by those who want it to happen and spreads from them.

Do you truly believe that the majority of elected officials are smarter than the collective wisdom of the voters? I don't, I have not found that to be true even of vast majority of elected official. If nothing else it removes the blind loyalty factor distorting the political process in Lansing or Washington. My best guess is that our two US Senators will vote against the current Supreme Court nominee because they can't see past Party loyalty, they can't even hear their constituents voices because if that. I would rather have an uninformed public voting than a Party hack that only does the bidding a Senator from NY.

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 4:32pm

Duane, this really comes down to for far you want to push the principle of a republican form of government. I contend that we elect officials (who aren't necessarily smarter than us) but are expected to make the decisions required to run our government and judged in subsequent elections. This is the reason we don't elect Federal judges, US attorneys, and cabinet positions (just for starters). Michigan's ridicules constitution not only has largely uninterested voters not only picking the judges but in effect the members of the governor's cabinet, (often from the opposing party). Michigan is at the top (or very near) in the nation for the number of elected offices. I really don't see what it has got us.

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 5:48pm

If elected officials are no smarter and if they time and again the show they use a non judicial criteria [Party politics] to make the selection, it would seem we would not only be transferring control of selection but be giving tacit approval of Party over qualifications/capacity/benefit to community, I resist such a transfer of power.

I can't say we have done any worse than elected officials would have done. I haven't heard of anyone showing how there is any significant difference in our Michigan judicial system results than those of any other state [an apples to apples comparison].

I think if we want to improve the quality/capacity/benefit of our judges we should be working on ways to enhance the selection process, helping voters be better informed, identifying what is a good judge and even what is common in good judges.

If we are to judge officials in subsequent elections than if nothing else we should establish some criteria voters can use to base their judgement on. I think a better informed electorate is the best tool for improving the effectiveness of a democracy and a republic.
I think in this day and age we should be able to identify what are critical issues and how they can be assessed.

Mon, 04/03/2017 - 11:32am

Duane as you say sure a everything boils down to a better inform electorate. But there is the problem and always has been, as Churchill said "The best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter". The fact is, most people aren't knowledgeable or interested to any extent and never will be. Again is this why don't we elect members of the US Supreme court, US attorneys or for that matter the courthouse janitor. Would things be perfect and only completely competent people be appointed by our elected leaders? Obviously not, but at least in theory they know their name, most ... probably 99% voters resort to eenie meenie. Given this total unfamiliarity what kind of accountability do you believe these minor positions really have? Zero! And again here, I'm not talking "should" or "if" but "is".

Mary Jo Johnson
Tue, 03/28/2017 - 9:33pm

I agree! I think there may actually be a chance to overcome gerrymandering in Michigan with this group's education efforts. I attended their forum in Dearborn in March and they are energetic and organized to really push this ballot initiative for a non-partisan redistricting commission. I signed on to volunteer- they need researchers, presenters, and will need signature gatherers starting in May. More information is available on their website: www.votersnotpoliticians.com.

Tue, 03/28/2017 - 11:55pm

People seem to use the past to build tight boxes around their thinking preventing their listening to what others are saying/wanting/needing. They seem to think that this distrust is recent; they fail to accept that the Headlee Amendment and term limits were the public expressing its distrust. People fail to understand that the distrust in due to the lack of results.
People mourn the loss of ‘tenured’ politicians with term limits, but when asked what expertise that experience provides they fall silent. Aside from developing personal contacts to manipulate or be manipulated by, what do politicians learn that is unique to holding public office and isn’t something people learn in their professions/careers/lives?

Institutional memory is the organization’s retention of knowledge and events instead of individuals. Even if term limits end do people truly think that anything will be remembered accurately? In the past when the memories were held by long serving individuals, did they freely and openly share their memories or was it a tool used to manipulate the system, were their memories selective? If Mr. Power and his Republican source were truly interested in institutional memory they would be looking for protocols that would formally capture memories so it would be available to all at any time, it would be factual not affected by the individual, it would be in the context of events/times/concerns.

I wish people would take the time to have a conversation [ask and listen and talk about issues with people holding other perspectives]. The reality is that people have changed over the generations, they have better access to more information, there are more choices and people make more decisions at work and home than ever before, and people have found that results speak louder than what is said.
Trust won’t come from a legislator in office for 30 years, but it will come when legislated programs deliver results, when agencies deliver results, when improving results is what we are talking about not declining results. Too many seem not to realize that people are held accountable every day at work and in life and they see such accountability, rather than longevity, is what improves results.

If there is to be a return of trust/confidence it will only start when improving results are being delivered, when people have the tools to make better informed choices come election day, when people feel that they are participants in what is being done in Lansing and their local communities. We need to be talking about how we can do this not whining how we need to return to the past.

Kevin Grand
Wed, 03/29/2017 - 8:25am

"Michigan residents in our research agreed. Three quarters of participants told us they had “low” or “very low trust in the ability of term limits to result in effective legislative leadership."

Did I misread the report, Mr.Power?

"However, the Center’s report found divided opinion on what to do about term limits.

Two thirds of community conversation participants wanted to lengthen or eliminate term limits. But 69 percent of poll respondents wanted to leave term limits alone or make term limits even more restrictive."

According to your own survey, The Bridge essentially got two different sets of numbers on what to do with Term Limits depending on how people were asked. I've yet to hear someone reconcile the two widely different numbers or how anyone can draw a definitive conclusion from them.

Why is that?

Ronald Smith
Wed, 03/29/2017 - 4:32pm

For a Better Michigan
Dear Reader:
Do you approve of gerrymandered congressional districts?
If you do not, there is a way to do them in a fair, unbiased, and simple mathematical way.

A Fair And Independent Redistricting plan, the FAIR act.
Gerrymandering is the process where someone, usually a political party, designs congressional districts to bias the election results. Typically, this is done to get more of its own party members elected than the other political party, but it has also been used to minimize the votes of some groups of people. This means the value of the votes of some people will be diminished. This has been done for 200 years. Gerrymandering is contrary to the idea that all men are created equal and that each person’s vote is as valuable as the next person vote. This is not good for citizens or democracy.
Everyone can recognize gerrymandering when they see it, but it is not illegal and a legally functional definition is difficult to make. I propose that instead of trying to make it illegal we use plans proposed by Michiganders with simple mathematical rules to design the districts. Some of the rules are already the law. These rules would apply after meeting any federal requirements. The guaranteed result: Districts that are not gerrymandered.

Rule #1: Voting precincts cannot cross county lines, city lines, township lines or school district lines.
Rule#2: Voting precincts shall have an upper limit to the number of residents; for example, 1200 people counted by the census.
Rule#3: Voting precincts shall have an upper limit to the geometric area: for example 40 square miles. Also, the maximum distance between any two points in a precinct cannot be more than 10 miles apart.
These three rules mean that, in any election, all voters in a precinct will all have the same ballot options, candidates and proposals. Also, the precincts will not be crowded or require voters to travel long distances to vote. Precincts should be made for the voter’s convenience.
In the 2010 Census, Michigan had 9,883,640 citizens in 14 congressional districts or approximately 705,974 citizens per district. The additional rules for defining the congressional districts are:
Rule #4: The population of all congressional districts must be equal. Variations could be up to 10 people.
Rule #5: District borders must be continuous, i.e. districts cannot be in two or more separate pieces.
Rule #6: No district can completely surround another district.
Rule #7: Any Michigander, can propose a plan for the districts and submit it to the State (perhaps to the Secretary of State) or, perhaps, to an independent commission. After a plan is submitted, the total combined perimeter length, measured in miles, for all of the individual districts in a plan shall be calculated. Lines lengths are not affected by crossing water like rivers or lakes. This is easily calculated using computer programs such as the free Goggle Earth Pro. The lengths of the perimeter lines along the Great Lakes shoreline will not be counted in these perimeter calculations because they do not affect the final results. In other words, only the lines lying on the mainland of Michigan’s two peninsulas are counted in the total perimeter length calculation. Islands within half a mile of the mainland are considered part of the mainland. Lines could be drawn to any far offshore island if that Michigander chooses, but lines to far offshore islands will increase the total perimeter length. An island could still have its own convenient voting precincts, of course. Islands without permanent residents can be ignored.
Rule #8: After confirming the calculations in the submitted plans, the State of Michigan must make the submitted plans readily and freely available for timely public review, probably on its Internet website. The website will present all of the details of each plan and a convenient map which visually shows the district lines.

Rule #9: This is the key rule. The State of Michigan is required to confirm, approve, accept, and make legally binding the redistricting plan submitted that has the minimum total perimeter length of all the districts. In other words, for a given plan, the perimeter length of each district is added to the perimeter lengths of all the other districts for a grand total. The plan with the smallest grand total must be used.

Since all this is just mathematical calculating, there must be clever computer programmers who could write a program to design the districts with the absolutely minimum perimeter length and equal populations. Once the State confirms the plan, then the redistricting process would be quickly done and a lot of effort and possible conflict will be eliminated.

To demonstrate the principle of minimum perimeters consider a simplified geometric example:
Consider a rectangle .1 miles wide and 90 miles long. The perimeter is 180.2 miles and the area is 9 square miles.
Consider a rectangle .5 miles wide and 18 miles long. The perimeter is 37 miles and the area is still 9 square miles.
Consider a rectangle 1 mile wide and 9 miles long. The perimeter is 20 miles and the area is still 9 square miles.
Consider a rectangle 3 miles wide and 3 miles long. The perimeter is 12 miles and the area is still 9 square miles.
The square has the minimum perimeter (circles do not fit together nicely like rectangles). Elongated rectangles, which have large perimeters, are like gerrymandered districts. More gerrymandering always causes longer total perimeter lengths. The same logic applies when using population calculations for congressional districts as well as this simple geometric calculation.

This is how the FAIR plan would work, if not using a computer program. Once the U. S. census data is released to the public and the number of congressional districts is determined, any Michigander who wishes to make a make a redistricting plan may do so. For example, lets start with the Republicans since designed the last redistricting plan. Assume they make a plan gerrymandered for their benefit and that their plan’s total perimeter distance is equal to 1000 miles. They will probably also make a plan that they estimate the Democrats might want. Lets say this estimated plan is 995 miles. If the Democrats actually did make a plan with 995 miles of perimeter, the Democratic plan would become law and the Republican plan would not. So the Republicans will rework their plan to have a perimeter of perhaps 990 miles. Well, the Democrats are independently making all the same types of calculations using the exact same data. Then they will then make a plan that has perimeter of perhaps 985 miles. Both parties will keep reworking their plans knowing that the other party will always be trying to make a plan that has a perimeter less than the other party’s design. Both parties will want their own party’s’ plan to become law, so they each try to make plans to have a total perimeter length less than the other party. The result is that each party will tend to make a plan with the minimum possible total perimeter length. Of course, the political parties know that independent groups like the League of Women Voters, college professors, computer programmers, newspapers, even the Secretary of State, etc., will also be able to submit plans. The State on Michigan would verify the perimeter lengths of each submitted plan. All submitted plans must be easily available to the public at least five months before the State must make its final decision.

So what would happen if the FAIR plan was the law? District lines would generally follow along existing roads and property lines. The shapes of the districts would be tend to be squares or at least squarish. No district is likely to be a perfect geometric square and the geometric size of districts will vary, of course. Rural districts will have larger geometric areas than urban districts, just as they do now. The populations of the districts would be equal. The districts would not favor one political party over another. Neighbors will vote with neighbors. No voter would have his vote diminished in value.
Consider our current 1st Congressional district, which includes the Upper Peninsula and the fingers of the Lower Peninsula. With the FAIR plan, the district would not change much. But consider the 5th or 14th district. These are clearly gerrymandered now. With the FAIR plan they would have much smaller perimeters and be more compact.
Rule #10: This same mathematical procedure will be applied to not only U. S. congressional districts but also to the 110 State House districts and the 38 State Senate districts. It would not apply to the governor’s race since the entire State is already the one and only district.
Rule #11: After the three independent and separately drawn maps for congressional, House, and Senate are combined, then overlay the maps for county lines, city lines, township lines and school district lines. Overlaying is a typical procedure in cartography. The gaps between these lines become areas where voting precincts can be drawn. Since all voting precincts are still subject to Rules #1, #2, and #3, some of these gaps may need subdividing. Note that the three redistricting plans that Michigan accepts for the congressional, House, and Senate districts can come from three different Michiganders since the designs are independent from each other.
Every ten years the U. S. Census bureau counts the citizens of each State. We have time to eliminate gerrymandered districts before the 2020 census
Well, dear reader, do you want to fix the system? Do you want to protect the value of your vote? Speak up or nobody hears you. Tell your representatives in Lansing what you want, perhaps send this paper article, especially before the election. Speak to your friends, newspaper editors, social media contacts and others.

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 1:37am

Since the people have a choice and vote privately I am not sure the system needs fixing and it is surely not the reason people are disappointed in who they are electing.

History shows that gerrymandering doesn't prevent a Party in control is assured of staying in control. It seems that both Parties has at different points in time been in control of the gerrymandering and subsequently lost control, so it would seem that gerrymandering has limited affect on who is in office. And if you lay term limits over that it further reduces the likely impact of gerrymandering.

I think there are more pressing issue and ones that will have more immediate impact on our communities.

If you want to make a effective change with more likelihood of success, I would suggest we work on developing a tool/criteria voters can use when assessing candidates. It is kinda like buying a car when people shift the system to encourage the purchase certain types of cars and the buyers have a set of criteria for choosing a car, the system has minimal impact. Are people running to buy the Prius or the SUV or pickup truck.

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 8:20am

Wow!!!! Right out of the gate, 1, 2 and 3 your plan's restrictions fall back on themselves. School districts don't follow county lines and do cross county lines. Either you'd have to have a huge number of seats with very few constituents or plan falls apart in the vast empty areas of UP and northern MI or higher population cities. Other than being unworkable and complicated, it's great. Either you have to make political boundaries the primary determinant and allow flexibility as to population or visa versa, can't have both. A computer program could do this except again if you split minority communities your whole plan gets tossed by a judge as a Voting Rights Act violation. Good luck.

Thu, 03/30/2017 - 2:40pm

You lost me at perimeter.

Fri, 03/31/2017 - 4:23pm

Could not agree more. What a Mess! It is only going to get worse because people will not listen to anyone but people who support their views. As education is privatized the indoctrination will start even earlier.