Redistricting proposal passes

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published November 9, 2018

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LANSING — More than 60 percent of voters across the state were in favor of creating a new commission of registered voters to draw district boundary lines across Michigan.

Theresa Turnquist, of St. Clair Shores, said she was in favor of passing Proposal 2 “because I don’t like the lobbyists picking” the voting districts, she said. “I think it should be the people.”

Proposal 2 calls for the creation of a commission of 13 registered voters randomly selected by the secretary of state, including four voters each who self-identity with either Democrats or Republicans, and five others who are unaffiliated.

The proposal also prohibits partisan types from serving as commissioners; it establishes new criteria that looks at geographic areas that reflect a more diverse population; and it requires an appropriation of funds for commission operations and commissioner compensation.

Across the state of Michigan, 2.4 million voters were in favor of Proposal 2.

“We just amended the state constitution to bring fair, impartial, transparent redistricting for decades to come,” said Katie Fahey, founder and executive director of Voters Not Politicians, which worked for two years to get the issue on the ballot.

Fahey, speaking in Detroit at an election night party broadcast live on Facebook, said that she came up with the idea in November 2016 after the divisive presidential election.

Now, she said, “the way the voters of Michigan vote will be fairly represented.”

The proposal was approved 4-3 by the Michigan Supreme Court July 31 to be placed on the November ballot. Voters Not Politicians traveled around the state over the past few months in an effort to generate enthusiasm and provide education on the topic. Other proponents include the League of Women Voters.

Karen Klann, of St. Clair Shores, said that gerrymandering is a problem but that many people are unaware.

“You shouldn’t be able to pick who’s in your district,” she said of politicians.

But not everyone agreed.

Voting in St. Clair Shores, Jake Fry said he was not in favor of Proposal 2 and putting 13 people in charge of deciding voting districts, because he’s afraid that changing the process would be too expensive.

“I know they don’t make minimum wage. It’s going to be a lot of money out of the taxpayers to pay for these people,” he said.

The amendment will be implemented after the 2020 census, and the new maps drawn by the citizens redistricting commission will be first used for the 2022 elections.

Applications will be available online beginning Jan. 1, 2020, and the commission members will be selected by Sept. 1, 2020. The commission will convene beginning in October 2020 and will adopt the final maps by November 2021 to be ready for the Nov. 8, 2022, general election.

St. Clair Shores City Clerk Mary Kotowski said that districts are redrawn every 10 years, after each census count, so the passage of Proposal 2 won’t mean too much for municipal clerks.

Staff Writer Nick Mordowanec contributed to this report.