Dear Local League Presidents,
As you probably know, the redistricting ballot proposal submitted by Voters Not Politicians has been approved by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers as to form. The Board of State Canvassers approved technical formatting issues of the initiative petition but did not approve the substance of the proposal or the summary.
Having received the approval, Voters Not Politicians (VNP) has begun collecting signatures. We are aware that many League members believe we should support the ballot proposal and want to participate in the signature gathering process.
The LWVMI Board has discussed the various options the League might take.
Michigan's Campaign Finance Law requires groups to file a ballot question committee if they receive or spend $500 or more in cash, or in "in-kind" contributions in support or opposition of a ballot proposal. (See attached MI Ballot Question Committee Manual).
If LWVMI supported the ballot proposal, our costs, including "in-kind" contributions would exceed $500.
Voters Not Politicians has filed a ballot question committee. LWVMI has not.
For many months we worked with a number of groups, including VNP, to try to form a diverse coalition. Unfortunately, we were not successful. VNP chose to go ahead.
We could join VNP, but it would not be a coalition. We would have no voice in any decisions VNP made and we would not be able to protect the use of the League's name.
The League believes that in order to be successful, redistricting reform must be supported by a coalition of groups that reflects the diversity of our state.
Since LWVMI has not filed a ballot question committee and has not joined VNP, we cannot support the proposal and League members may not participate in VNP activities, including signature gathering, as League members. They may do so as individuals.
Further, Local Leagues cannot take any action in support or opposition to this ballot proposal. You may be asked by VNP for permission to speak and to circulate petitions at your upcoming meetings. They are welcome to circulate petitions in the hallways of public buildings, but they cannot make announcements, display handouts or circulate petitions during your meetings. Again, this would require reporting under the Campaign Finance Law.
We remain committed to redistricting reform in Michigan and to working to form a diverse coalition.
We will continue our efforts to educate voters on the redistricting problems in our state and the need for an Independent Commission.
Please make sure you share this memo with your geographical units and members as appropriate. It will also be placed on LWVMI's website.
We recognize that you may receive questions from your members. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions.
Judy Karandjeff President
Sue Smith Director of Redistricting
The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math Sophisticated computer modeling has taken district manipulation to new extremes. To fix this, courts might have to learn how to run the numbers themselves. By EMILY BAZELON AUG. 29, 2017
Justin Levitt Professor at Loyola Law School; former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice; maintains the website 'All About Redistricting'
Michael Munger Professor of Political Science at Duke University
Kelly Ward Interim Executive Director of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee; former Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)
Chris Jankowski Republican strategist; former Executive Director of the REDMAP Project at the Republican State Leadership Committee
A recent article in The Bridge (an on-line newsletter published by the Center for Michigan) describes the efficiency gap and what this calculation might mean for Michigan redistricting. Gerrymandering in Michigan is among the nation's worst, new test claims