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.
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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.
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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.