By Naomi Siegel Morse, Policy Committee Co-Chair | January 6, 2022
When Voters Not Politicians was first organized, a Policy Committee was established to formulate a nonpartisan solution to the gerrymandering problem. Since then, anti-democratic forces have increased and broadened their efforts, leading to the continued expansion of the Policy Committee’s work. Committee members seek out policy solutions that support VNP’s mission to strengthen democracy in our state and protect the power of the people. The committee, made up of self-nominated, enthusiastic volunteers, helps narrow down the many policy options being considered by the organization, allowing resources to be directed to the most urgent and impactful democracy reforms.
VNP’s original policy committee, led by Nancy Wang, researched and wrote the language which would eventually become Prop. 2, the constitutional amendment that provides the operational framework for what is now the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. From the very beginning, a core value has been that everyone is welcome and valued regardless of background; you only need an interest in working on policy. Following the passage of Prop. 2, a second group co-chaired by Jason Meeuwig and Scot Reynolds was brought together in 2019. These volunteers worked on a wide range of policy issues, but a great deal of time was spent on what would become VNP’s government accountability package. The recommendations in that package included reform of legislative term limits, expansion of FOIA/LORA to the legislative and executive branches of government, a framework for an independent legislative ethics committee, and much more.
After a hiatus, the third iteration of the policy committee was assembled in September of 2021. This relatively new group is co-chaired by Naomi Siegel Morse and Bob Parrish, and currently includes 14 volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds. Some committee members have professional backgrounds as attorneys, policy analysts, and election administrators. The remainder of the committee is made up of people who have worked in a variety of other fields, but have a strong interest in pro-democracy reform. Our group also includes a very knowledgeable and hard-working high school student whose organizational and research skills are highly valued by the committee.
With direction from Nancy Wang and Jamie Lyons Eddy, the group is already working on numerous short and long-term assignments which are important to the mission of VNP. The committee has broken up into small groups and is currently involved in the following projects:
⏺ Analysis of the Secure MI Vote initiative
⏺ Policies to build on and expand 2018’s Prop. 3
⏺ How to prevent election subversion
⏺ A 5-10 year policy plan
Nancy Wang describes the group as “an internal think tank.” Committee members work together to find relevant background materials; compare potential policies with the policies of other states; identify sources of policy expertise; and present evidence which helps VNP leadership make policy choices. Committee members enjoy the collaborative nature of this work, hoping that it will help deter anti-democratic efforts and promote solutions that are beneficial to Michigan voters and our democratic institutions.