GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A grassroots group working to get voting redistricting on the 2018 ballot in Michigan held a town hall meeting Thursday night.
Political districts are the boundaries that determine where you vote and who represents you in Lansing and Washington. They're redrawn every 10 years following the census. The party in power is in charge of redistricting, which the coalition "Voters Not Politicians" says is rife with conflicts of interest.
"Voters Not Politicians, "as their name suggests, is advocating instead for a non-partisan board - a commission led by citizens - to break the cycle and draw the lines after the 2020 census. They say some districts are drawn in such a way that benefit the politician more than the constituent.
A GOP consultant FOX 17 spoke with in February says district line have been the way they are for years, suggesting the only thing that's changed is demographics and "self-clustering," which happens when people move into like-minded communities with others who vote like they do.
"I would say look at the maps and see if you see that we have compact shapes because across Michigan you will not see that [self-clustering]," says Katie Fahey, co-founder of "Voters Not Politicians." "So if you really think it's just people moving near each other then why do those funky shapes need to divide them in those ways?" Fahey is referring to how some districts have odd shapes.
The group is launching a petition drive to land a referendum on the 2018 ballot, ahead of the 2020 census. "Voters Not Politicians" are currently working on finalizing the language on the petition. After that, they will need to collect 315,000 signatures within an 180-day window.
It was a packed house Thursday night. "Voters Not Politicians" says in addition to building support for their petition drive, they also want to educate others on why redistricting reform is important.