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Politics

A Grand Rapids group hopes to end practice of gerrymandering

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A Grand Rapids based group is hoping to put the process of drawing electoral maps into the hands of the people, and end gerrymandering for good.

Gerrymandering is a process which allows politicians to draw electoral districts in ways that favor their political party.

The process allows a party to stay in power despite getting fewer votes.

Katie Fahey  is the President of Voters not Politicians. She said Michigan is one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country.

“Let’s say if 50 percent voted for Democrats or 50 percent voted for Republicans you would expect in our state senate or our state house of representatives you’d have 50/50. But we do not see that is the case. We see more of a 70 percent of a 63 percent of seats being allocated to one party over the other depending on who is drawing the lines.”

Fahey said gerrymandering allows one party to stay in power despite getting fewer votes.

“We do see that this is a big problem in Michigan. We’ve seen reports from the Associated Press that Michigan is one of the worst gerrymandered states in the country.”

Fahey said there’s no incentive for politicians to change these unfair districts.

“Politicians have an inherent benefit to manipulating those lines to manipulate how those votes are counted. We think that by bringing it to an independent commission that we’ll have much better results that more accurately represent how the votes of Michigan would like to be represented.”

Fahey said if their proposal would create a commission of 13 voters from across the state who would publicly draw maps that represent the fairest distribution of voters.

The group put forward a ballot proposal in June and are waiting to hear back from the State Board of Canvassers before collecting the necessary signatures.

If the group can gather enough signatures the proposal will then go before voters for final approval.