LANSING – Voters Not Politicians today filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit brought by politicians and special interests to undermine Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The lawsuit seeks to nullify the redistricting reform amendment on the ground that the voters’ decision to exclude the immediate family members of politicians and other political operatives violates the federal constitution.
“Voters made it loud and clear that they support a fair, impartial and transparent redistricting process to ensure that voters choose their politicians – not the other way around,” said Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians. “This lawsuit is the latest attempt by the same politicians and special interests who tried to keep the redistricting reform amendment off the ballot, to undermine the voice of voters.”
Daunt v. Benson was filed on behalf of 15 voters with partisan ties to block the Secretary of State from implementing the Commission according to deadlines laid out in the Michigan Constitution. The Secretary of State has indicated that applications to serve on the Commission will be made available to the general public later this year, and the department must mail applications to at least 10,000 randomly selected registered voters across the state no later than January 1, 2020. The department recently invited public comments on a draft application form.
“The amendment was drafted to ensure that those with the greatest potential for conflicts of interest are not the ones who are drawing the maps,” said Wang. “Any Michigander can participate in the public hearing process, including political party leaders and their family members. We’re confident that the amendment will survive this and any other legal challenges, just as it overcame previous challenges by many of the same special interests who are behind this suit, on the way to the ballot.”
Voters Not Politicians crafted the amendment language following 33 Town Hall events in 33 days to collect feedback about how voters wanted to approach redistricting. Over 4,000 volunteers collected more than 425,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. Proposal 2018-2 was passed with 61% of the vote – over 2.5 million voters – including 67 of Michigan’s 83 counties.
The motion states in part: “Prior to the approval of Proposal 18-2, politicians in Michigan consistently abused their redistricting power to rig elections in their favor, making Michigan one of the most gerrymandered states in the entire country. The People recognized that politicians have an inherent conflict of interest in drawing the election district lines on which their hold on power depends, so in 2018, the People took politicians out of the process and put voters – not politicians – in charge. The disqualification criteria that were approved by the voters, and are now being challenged by the Plaintiffs, help to ensure that district lines are not manipulated to advance special interests to the detriment of voters.”
- Proposed Intervenor-Defendant’s Brief in Support of Motion for Leave to Intervene
- Proposed Intervenor-Defendant’s Proposed Answer and Affirmative Defenses
Voters Not Politicians is a grassroots, nonpartisan advocacy organization dedicated to supporting the successful implementation of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission overwhelmingly supported by Michigan voters and to strengthening democracy by engaging people across Michigan in effective citizen action. Learn more at www.votersnotpoliticians.com.