Voting rights nonprofit intervenes in anti-redistricting suit

    People enter a voting precinct to vote in the Michigan Primary election at Trombly School, August 7, 2018 in Grosse Pointe Park | Bill Pugliano, Getty Images

    Just weeks after a group of Republicans sued Michigan’s secretary of state in an attempt to block the state’s new independent redistricting commission, the voting rights nonprofit that spearheaded its creation has filed a motion to intervene.

    Voters Not Politicians, which led the Proposal 2 ballot initiative that passed the new redistricting process into law, filed with the U.S. District Court in West Michigan Monday in an attempt to keep the new redistricting process in place.

    Prop 2 signature gathering
    Signature gathering for Proposal 2 | Voters Not Politicians

    “Voters made it loud and clear that they support a fair, impartial and transparent redistricting process to ensure that voters choose their politicians — not the other way around,” said Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians in a statement. “We’re confident that the amendment will survive this and any other legal challenges, just as it overcame previous challenges by many of the same special interests who are behind this suit, on the way to the ballot.”

    The group of Republicans protesting the new law, led by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, objected to it prohibiting family members of politicians and political operatives from serving on the commission. Walker said in a statement that the law was “punishing the people of Michigan for exercising those [constitutional] rights [to engage in political activity] — or for being related to someone who has.”

    In the motion, Voters Not Politicians argues they put the restrictions in place to “help to ensure that district lines are not manipulated to advance special interests to the detriment of voters.”

    Jocelyn Benson
    Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Mackinac Island, May 30, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

    Michigan was one of several states where gerrymandering lawsuits were headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, before the justices ruled in two cases in North Carolina and Maryland that the topic should be left to the states to decide.

    In July, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson detailed the process for selecting the members of the new commission and how their work will be carried out. The application to serve on a committee will be available online this fall.

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson covers local government, education, health care and the social safety net, and LGBTQ issues. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington, and before that covered local politics in Chicago. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He enjoys film, the Detroit Pistons and his cat. He once competed in the National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before any potential ESPN appearances.

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