The fight for fair maps transcends party lines.
Just look at Michigan. What began as a grassroots redistricting reform started by a group of citizens has blossomed into a ballot measure with backing, including financial support, from Republicans and Democrats.
The proposal introduced by Voters Not Politicians seeks to combat what has been labeled some of the most egregious examples of partisan gerrymandering in the country. It strips the state legislature and governor of their mapmaking powers and instead entrusts the job to a 13-member citizen commission of Republicans, Democrats and independent or third-party members.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder just donated $250,000 to Voters Not Politicians to aid in continued outreach and education efforts heading into November.
At the same time, two names in the state’s Republican circles threw their weight behind the measure in a column published in The Detroit News.
Pointing to the legacy of redistricting reforms left by the late Sen. John McCain, former Republican U.S. Rep. John Schwarz (now an independent) and former Republican Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson praised the ballot measure as an “example of putting principle and people first” by removing candidate and party interests from the process.
While the battle for reform is far from over, with a new poll showing the ballot measure lacks the widespread support needed to pass, these examples of bipartisan backing offer hope for a future in which fair elections are possible - not just for Michigan but for the entire country.
While citizen-led efforts to combat gerrymandering are laudable, a simple legislative solution by Congress offers a ready-made remedy. The Fair Representation Act makes partisan gerrymandering a needless practice by combining nonpartisan redistricting commissions with ranked choice voting and multi-member districts to restore a more fair and democratic electoral system.
Until then, expect citizens to continue to take up the charge.