Drawing Fair Political Maps
For nearly 30 years, the Republican-controlled legislature has been using gerrymandering to unfairly draw district lines and influence their chances of winning elections.
What is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering is the drawing and manipulation of political boundaries to give an unfair advantage to one political party over the other.
District lines are re-evaluated every 10 years following the U.S. Census. Here is what happens when gerrymandering occurs:
- District lines are drawn to either dilute or consolidate certain types of voters into favorable, or unfavorable, districts.
- The result is a series of districts shaped like inkblots.
- Similar to the diagram below, which shows three different ways of dividing 50 people into five districts, district lines can be manipulated to result in a majority of voters electing Party A instead of Party B in places where Party A has traditionally won.
- Michigan Republicans use the strategy in the last example to win in places they would normally lose in a fair election:
It’s time to restore the power of your vote and return our state to a truly representative democracy where district lines are determined using fair methods.
However, it wasn’t always this way. In the 1980s, the law was changed to give Republicans an advantage over Democrats instead of keeping redistricting in the hands of an unbiased group of citizens.
These individuals who helped draw Michigan’s political maps no longer had the same authority, and district maps became noticeably abstract.
Gerrymandering Manipulates Election Outcomes
In a truly representative government, a political party would hold the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes that they received. For example, if Party A won 60 percent of the vote, they would get 60 percent of the seats. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
State House races: In 2016, Democrats earned 50.2 percent of the vote — 18,000 more votes than their Republican opponents — but only won 39 percent of the seats.
State Senate races: In 2014, Republicans received 52 percent of the vote, but control 71 percent of the seats
An independent commission will restore integrity and confidence in our election process by redrawing districts in a fair manner.
Independent redistricting commissions are already being used by 23 other states with success.
Under Senate Bill 82, the commission would consist of 9 members, appointed as follows:
- 4 from the Republican Party;
- 4 from the Democratic Party; and,
- 1 appointed by the Auditor General.
Gerrymandering undermines the foundation of open and free elections, regardless of political affiliation. An independent commission will restore integrity and confidence in our election process by redrawing districts in a fair manner.
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