Analysis of the November Michigan ballot proposal 2 (anti-gerrymandering) and general thoughts on ballot proposals. Fourth in a series.

In general, ballot proposals should be voted “no” unless there is a compelling reason to vote “yes.” Because proposals are usually written by those favoring the proposal, there is no chance for an amendment, just an up or down vote by the people. The average voter is uninformed about complicated political issues; that’s why we elect representatives whose job it is to handle these things for us.

The Michigan recreational marijuana proposal is one example. Like many ballot proposals, this 14 page proposal written by legalization advocates would have slim chance of passing in the legislature. Why bother collecting thousands of signatures if you could just lobby your representatives? Because you can play to the ignorance of the people offering a proposal with no chance for the modifications it would receive if introduced as a bill in the legislature. If you could even get a majority in favor of it in principle. Incremental improvements like decriminalization personal possession of small amounts of pot might be a good start.

What about gerrymandering? This is something almost every voter would oppose, so Michigan’s Proposal 2 sounds good on the surface. Ending gerrymandering would increase the number of competitive races in the fall. Currently many races are really decided in the primaries since the Democrat or Republican will always win in November.

However, Proposal 2 adds 3,200 words to the Michigan Constitution. “For some perspective, the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Bill of Rights combined add up to just over 6,300 words. This complex, confusing (7 page) mess doesn’t belong in our constitution”.

Legislators might oppose it since they figure the party in power gets a chance to gerrymander every ten years. Or perhaps they realize that legislators have much more experience drawing up voting boundaries than a group of 13 citizens chosen at random by the Secretary of State. This is OK for juries, but not OK for such an important task!

It sounds fair to have 4 from each party and 5 unaffiliated with each major party. Until you realize that many Democrats hide behind the “non-partisan” label as in my city of Troy. The conservatives on our “non-partisan” Troy city council are often Republican precinct delegates and do not hide their affiliation. Liberals generally hide behind the “non-partisan” label until they run for office as a Democrat, or they run as a judge (another non-partisan position).

I (an unabashed conservative) could be considered an independent voter, since I have no ties to the Republican or Democratic Party, other than a $10 donation to a Republican many years ago. After all, I have never voted a straight ticket in November, always carefully voting for the candidate I prefer. :-)

If the legislature or the voters really want to end it, they could look to other states (Iowa, Kansas and/or Nebraska, I think) who have good anti-gerrymanding laws requiring contiguous use of cities and counties, or major streets within a large city, etc.

Sometimes, as with Proposals 2 and 3, the proposal is for a constitutional amendment, not just a law. Amending a constitution is much more difficult than repealing a law if the people or the legislature decide they don’t want or need the law anymore.

So what about Michigan’s anti-gerrymandering proposal? Here is the Ballotpedia website where you can read the text of the proposal, find out who is funding it, etc. Not surprisingly, yes votes are leading in the polls, since the pro forces have out-fundraised the “Vote No on 2” group by $15,644,000 to $393,000, a ratio of 40:1.

The $500,000 contribution by the Service Employees International Union alone to the “Yes” team is larger than the $305,000 raised by the “No” coalition of Michigan Chamber PAC, Michigan Chamber Litigation PAC, Fair Lines America, and Realtors PAC of Michigan.

Only four of the fifty states have an “independent commission” that determines redistricting lines for Congress. See map above. Should Michigan join these four states, which include California, notorious for its many ballot proposals? Do we really want to follow down the same road as California?

See Ballotpedia for the full 3200 word, 7 page change to our Michigan Constitution, near the top of their very useful website entry.

Below is the ballot text:

This proposed constitutional amendment would:

·        Create a commission of 13 registered voters randomly selected by the Secretary of State:

o   4 each who self-identify as affiliated with the 2 major political parties; and

o   5 who self-identify as unaffiliated with major political parties.

·        Prohibit partisan officeholders and candidates, their employees, certain relatives, and lobbyists from serving as commissioners.

·        Establish new redistricting criteria including geographically compact and contiguous districts of equal population, reflecting Michigan’s diverse population and communities of interest. Districts shall not provide disproportionate advantage to political parties or candidates.

·        Require an appropriation of funds for commission operations and commissioner compensation. Should this proposal be adopted?

Should this proposal be adopted?

[ ] YES

[ ] NO[7]


More to come in future articles…


Other articles

In previous blog posts, I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. The second article in the series described my faith in God which sustained me through both trials.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I introduced the project and published Matthew Chapter 1 . Later I wrote commentary on it; my church background and theological training is in my USA Melting Pot bio.
Dale Murrish writes on historytraveltechnologyreligion and politics for the USA Melting Pot club, LinkedIn, and Troy Patch. On the USA Melting Pot website are over a dozen ethnic presentations from people with firsthand knowledge under Culture & Country (right hand side), and outdoor presentations (Hobby & Fun), including posts on bicycling, skiing and camping.

Other interesting articles on the USA Melting Pot website have been written by Bilal Rathur on his hajj to Saudi Arabia (Part 6) and by Carl Petersen. Thanks to both of them for their contributions.