This past Election Day, Michigan voters used the power of their ballots to transfer the responsibility of drawing state and legislative districts to an independent redistricting commission, as well as expand access to the polls by approving two Michigan initiatives: Proposals 2 and 3. The League of Women Voters played a vital role in educating voters about each proposal and the future impact in their state.Background on the Proposals
Historically, the state and legislative districts in Michigan have been drawn by the politicians who hold office. It goes without saying that these are the very peoples who have a clear, vested interest in drawing maps that allow them to pick their voters where they can arguably manipulate the system to remain in power. The passage of Proposal 2 ensures that the responsibility of drawing state and legislative district maps moves to a 13-member independent redistricting commission—presumably offering some protection and prioritization of the interests of voters and communities in Michigan.
At the same time, the passage of Proposal 3 added several favorable voting policies to the Michigan Constitution including automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting during the 40 days before the election. These policies have been shown to encourage increased participation in elections by streamlining many of the administrative barriers individuals face when trying to be an engaged voter.
The passage of both Proposal 2 and Proposal 3 is the result of significant advocacy work by the League of Women Voters of Michigan. In the lead up to Election Day, state and local League members worked tirelessly to register new voters in underrepresented communities, provide critical Election Day information, and educate all voters about what was at stake this election. Fueled by a commitment to protect and expand the rights of Michigan voters, Leagues hosted more than 50 presentations focused on the ballot initiatives, registered hundreds of voters, hosted townhalls, and helped transport people to the polls.What Now?
While there is a lot to celebrate, the work for the League doesn’t stop here. League members will continue to play a critical role in the implementation of these proposals. A great example of the impact these initiatives have can be seen in Pennsylvania where fair maps led to political and gender parity in the 2018 midterm election. In Michigan, Leagues will remain on the frontlines as they work to educate the public about the influence of these initiatives carry inholding the legislature accountable to the public.