As 180 boxes containing 425,000 petition signatures calling for an end to gerrymandering were delivered today to the Secretary of State’s Office in Lansing, the state Republican Party quickly went on the attack, saying that current system of redistricting better serves the public.
The all-volunteer group Voters Not Politicians completed their petition drive weeks ahead of time and it appears almost certain that the proposal to put an independent commission in charge of redrawing legislative district lines will be placed on the November 2018 ballot. The group needed to collect 315,654 signatures.
Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser said the process should remain a function of the majority party in control of the Legislature (currently the Republicans) and he claimed the independent commission will consist of “bureaucrats.”
“Voters not Politicians wants to take the redistricting process out of the hands of our elected Representatives and hand it to a panel of bureaucrats who will in no way be accountable to Michigan voters,” Weiser said. “This proposal will lead to our citizens having less say in who represents them.”
The commission would consist of four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents. Politicians, lobbyists and their family members would not be eligible to serve.
“The people of Michigan are speaking loudly – they are tired of politicians, from both parties, and wealthy special interests who rig the system behind closed doors to benefit themselves,” said Katie Fahey, president of Voters Not Politicians, who started the drive with a Facebook post. “The people of Michigan have come together to make it clear they want voters to choose their politicians, not the other way around.”
The GOP also claims that Voters Not Politicians is “led by an assortment of Michigan Democrat Party operatives” who are trying to change the rules to benefit Democrats.
Next, the state Bureau of Elections will scrutinize the petitions and toss out signatures that are not valid. If a sufficient number of valid signatures are certified, the state Board of Canvassers, if no objections are raised, would vote to put the proposal on the Nov. 6, 2018 statewide ballot.