Friday, July 21, 2017

First round of the battle

I’ve been to early meetings of Voters, Not Politicians, a group in Michigan working to put a proposal on the 2018 ballot to put redistricting into the hands of an independent commission. Michigan is one of the more highly gerrymandered states. I plan to be more involved as petitions are circulated (I don’t plan to be a circulator, though I might come for your signature).

Last week the campaign had a big reveal on Facebook (so I didn’t see it) on the birthday of Elbridge Gerry, the guy whose signature as Governor of Massachusetts prompted the creation of the word gerrymander. Gerry then served as Vice President under James Madison. The big reveal was to start their petition circulation efforts.

But they’ve hit a snag. The state Bureau of Elections and its Board of Canvassers needs to approve the wording of the petitions. Most of the time that approval comes in 1-2 days, which is what the campaign was told when they checked with the Bureau of Elections several months ago.

It has now been 23 days.

And the Bureau of Elections is now saying it could be weeks or months.

This is important. The campaign, all volunteer, was counting on summer weekends to collect some 350,000 signatures, which must be done within 180 days. Without these summer weekends the campaign will have to raise money for the much more expensive route of paying for canvassers.

We knew the people who control Lansing would fight against a proposal to lessen their grip. This appears to be the first round in that battle.

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