Michigan Initiative for Non-Partisan Redistricting Commission Cleared to Start Collecting Signatures

On August 17, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved the initiative petition that would set up a non-partisan commission to draw U.S. House and legislative district boundaries.  Here is the web page of the proponents of that initiative.  Thanks to Thomas Jones for the news and the link.


Michigan Initiative for Non-Partisan Redistricting Commission Cleared to Start Collecting Signatures — 14 Comments

  1. The *approval* was only for the *form* of the petition —

    which means about zero to the courts.

    The scheme text is mainly a copy of the CA gerrymander commission scheme text.

  2. That is sort of true. Michigan does not have partisan registration, and voters select their primary ballot in secrecy. Yet the initiative assumes that applicants will attest to their party affiliation. Since the persons who are most likely to overtly express a party affiliation, elected officials and party officials, are excluded from being members, there is the possibility of sleepers, or persons who are uncertain of their party affiliation.

    In the Idaho litigation over party registration, a political scientist for the State testified that some people identified with a political party for cultural or historical reasons (“my parents were Demo Reps”) but actually tended to vote for the other party, while other persons identified as independent (“my Mom was a Demo Rep, while my Dad was a Rep Demo, so I’m Independent”), yet consistently vote for candidates of one party or the other. This was the key evidence in the decision, though it was not clear why public registration would lead to voters registering an “accurate” party affiliation. Cultural or historical Republicans would register as Republican and vote in the primary, and “independents” would be excluded.

    The SOS will accept active applications from members of the public, and randomly send applications to 10,000 Michiganese voters. This is vaguely like the procedure used in British Columbia when it selected its commission to consider the voting system, but in that case, the goal was too choose a much broader panel. Here it is to draw a pool from which commissioners will be drawn.

    Unlike in California, there does not appear to be any screening for aptitude, etc. The only selection criteria will be party affiliation, and demographic and geographic information. The California process would tend to discourage applicants who didn’t want to complete an essay. In Michigan, it would simply require someone to check off they are not disqualified by holding an elected office, party office, etc., and are not related to someone who is, and then complete party affiliation and demographic information (age, sex, race) and geographic information. The application might not include an assessment of how much or how little work is required.

    A voter might reasonably decide, that since they asked me (and 9999 other Michiganders) I must be qualified.

    The initiative requires the SOS to randomly select a pool of 100 active applicants, 30 Demo Rep, 30 Rep Demo, and 40 undecided, and 100 applicants from those solicited randomly, in the same proportions. This group will also be distributed 30DR, 30RD, and 40 U. The random selection will be stratified, so there will 6 Yupers, 100 females, 40 over 65s, etc. (numbers are just guesstimates). So if you are from Lansing, you will be less likely to be randomly selected.

    Then each of the four party leaders will get 5 strikes, which they can use to eliminate more objective and competent applicants. That could reduce the total pool to 180 persons.

    The final 13 commissioners are then selected by lot, with 4 “R”, 4 “D”, and 5 “U”.

    The main criteria is community of interest, which may include cultural interests (likes jazz or rap; likes C&W); historic interest (great-grandfather moved to Detroit from Eastern Europe or Southern USA); or economic interest. Of course none of these correlate with race or politics, and so these communities will produce competitive elections. If these communities of interest are real, they could be identified now, and not when some interest group is attempting to lobby for a boundary change.

    Political subdivisions and compactness appear to be minor considerations.

  3. The Donkeys totally controlled the CA gerrymander commission by having some Donkey spy/agent LIARS claiming to be *independents*.

    Gerrymander math will continue —

    !/2 or less votes x 1/2 rigged districts = 1/4 or less CONTROL.

    NO gerrymander commissions wanted or needed.
    PR (in multi-seat districts) and AppV.

  4. The bar on people who are party officers or declared candidates (or have been in the past six years, or have a parent, child, spouse, or step- who is/was) will hit heavier on the alternative parties in general, because that disqualifies a bigger share of their core of support. I was at a Green statewide meeting the weekend before last — and I would bet that none or next to none of the 40-50 people there would be eligible.

    But Libertarians will be hurt the worst. Thanks to Gary Johnson’s 2016 vote tally, they’re now in the August 2018 primaries — which also means state law requires them to elect precinct delegates in those primaries, all across the state, to populate the also statutorily required county conventions and ultimately the state convention. If they don’t, they risk their party being run by non-Libertarians. But if they do, all those precinct delegates will be ineligible as partisan elected officers. In strong Libertarian areas where there’s competition for those positions, even the losers will have been declared candidates for partisan office and just as ineligible. (You can’t have votes counted for you even as a write-in for precinct delegate unless you declare you’re a write-in candidate; the deadline is just later for that office than for others.)

    Now, I must condition this on the text that’s publicly available. I got mine from the Bureau of Elections Monday afternoon, and it’s posted here:


    The file I got said “final” in its filename, so that’s why the link says it — but it may not be.

    The VNP site has a page it says shows unofficial language:


    PNG image dated Tuesday morning which may be the same text with a “still under review” watermark, and without the printer’s affidavit and the front page with its description of the proposal.

    But I’ve heard from a friend that there were some changes made Wednesday evening before the Thursday morning BSC meeting. If/when I find out the details about those, I’ll post about them — and link to them, as best I can — on my FB page.

  5. Thanks to Demo Rep for forwarding the state’s link to the official language. VNP hasn’t posted it yet, though they said they would — and the Bureau of Elections folks haven’t gotten back to me either.

    I see the file was created Tuesday afternoon, and modified at 9:16:54am Thursday. That makes it later than either VNP’s posted graphic or the version the Bureau sent me Monday afternoon. In fact, it’s less than an hour before the BSC hearing — so there could have been changes (though the later date could just indicate the Bureau’s adding the “over-water-mark” saying “SAMPLE”).

    Anyway, I will have to look it over for possible changes while I wait for the Bureau to confirm that this *is* the official “FINAL final” and approved version. At least now I have some time — because there’s no longer a chance to change the language, so there isn’t the urgency of trying to find out what it says and get back to VNP in time for them to consider any suggestions I might make.

  6. Update: there is now a link on the state’s “2018 Statewide Petitions” page to the VNP petition . (Can’t tell when it was added; it might have been there before and I didn’t notice it — I have been scrambling to fit this effort into my paid work and the rest of my life.)

    Both links match what Demo Rep posted before — and the petition file that comes up has the same file properties, including the timestamps of creation and latest revision. And the “over-water-mark” that says “SAMPLE”. If it’s that similar, then it doesn’t help much in being sure that it really *is* the “FINAL final” text.

    I’ve had an offer from a VNP supporter not too far away to look at a hard copy, which of course *would* be a “FINAL final” version. Of course, I’d need more than a quick peek to analyze that document, whether it has changes from the posted versions or not. Well, one way or another I’ll try to let folks know what I find out — here and on my FB page.

  7. @JALP, The COC analysis is quite cogent.

    The VNP proposal is not well thought out, or alternatively, well thought out in order to deceive (e.g. its got a good beat and you can litigate to it). In a state like Michigan, where you have rectangular counties and square townships it is not that difficult to draw House districts.

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