gerrymandering

congressional district map
Courtesy / U.S. House of Representatives

A grassroots group that’s trying to reform Michigan’s political redistricting process has reached a milestone. 

 


map of Michigan
Courtesy / U.S. Dept. of Interior

The U.S. Supreme Court began its new term last week with a case that’s destined to make history.  For the first time, the court will decide if partisan gerrymandering is, in fact, constitutional. 

In the meantime, a citizens group in Michigan is hoping to bypass the traditional legislative process and put the job back in the hands of the people.

 


crowd at high school
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

In the 2016 election, Michigan House Republicans edged out Democrats by just 3,000 votes.  Yet, the GOP won more than 57 percent of all state House seats.  Their victory was the result of creative map making.

 

State legislative districts are drawn by whichever political party is in power.  Both Democrats and Republicans tend to draw those boundaries to consolidate their voting base.  The practice is called “gerrymandering,” and opponents say it diminishes the voice of the people.


map of Michigan
Courtesy / U.S. Dept. of Interior

In 2021, Michigan will re-draw its congressional and state legislative boundaries.  The law says each of these geographic tracts of land must contain as equal a number of people as possible.  This mandate creates a jigsaw puzzle of irregular shapes across the political map.

For decades, political parties have “gerrymandered” these borders to their own advantage.  Technically, it’s illegal for a single party to group its voting base in a specific area, but the practice can be hard to prove.   Now, grassroots support is building to place redistricting back in the hands of the people.