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LWVMI'S FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST GERRYMANDERING GOES TO TRIAL IN FEBRUARY, 2019

On November 29, 2018, a 3-judge panel ruled to allow a federal lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and 11 individual voters in December 2017 against the State of Michigan to go forward. The lawsuit aims to to end unfair, partisan gerrymandering of Michigan’s Congressional, state senate and state house districts. The suit has survived attempts for dismissal by lawyers for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth John and will now go to trial in February, 2019. “Emails that the mapmakers exchanged illustrate the profound extent to which partisan political considerations played into their redistricting efforts,” the judges wrote in their November 29th decision. The judges added that the “efforts proved extremely successful,” allowing Republicans to win a “majority of seats” in Congress the next three elections “despite never winning more than 50.5% of the statewide vote.”   Click here to read the November 30, 2018 Bridge Magazine article. 

When the lawsuit was filed, LWVMI President Judy Karandjeff said, “The Michigan League of Women Voters today filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of voters throughout Michigan to end the practice of unfair, partisan gerrymandering. Michigan’s State House, Senate and Congressional districts are among the worst in the nation when it comes to partisan gerrymandering, and today’s lawsuit aims to fix the problem and restore voters’ rights to choose who best represents them." "Ending partisan gerrymandering is critical to preserve our democracy and ensure every vote counts,” said Sue Smith, director of the League’s Redistricting Program."

The lawsuit asks the federal court to declare the current districts to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders and to ensure that the districts are redrawn in a fair fashion. Click here for the complete Press Release. Click here to read the Complaint.

We welcome donations to assist with the lawsuit costs.  Please click on the "Donate to LWVMI Education Fund"  button on the right.  Thanks!

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION INFORMATION

Michigan voters turned out in record numbers for the gubernatorial election - 65% of registered voters, comparable to 1966 and 1970 elections.

Women did well in the midterm election in Michigan. For the first time, women will hold the offices of the Governor, Secretary of State and Attorney General at the same time. In addition, women will hold 53 of 148 seats in the Michigan Legislature - the most ever. Michigan will go from 25% women to 35% in MI House and MI Senate. And for diversity of age, the three top women are under 50 years of age.

Incumbents also did well. U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow won re-election. In the U.S. House of Representatives delegation, Mike Bishop (R, 8th district) was the only incumbent who lost out of 11 incumbents. In the Michigan Senate of the 12 incumbents only two lost, Senator Marty Knollenberg (R-13) and Senator Margaret O'Brien (R-20). In the Michigan House, of the 67 incumbents, only Representative Jeff Noble (R-20) lost.

Michigan Democrats won all three of the top statewide positions. Democrats gained control of the State Board of Education and the boards of the three universities. Democrats gained 2 seats in MI's delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, 5 seats in the Michigan Senate and 5 seats in the Michigan House of Representatives. Republicans maintained controlled of the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and the Supreme Court. Neither party has enough votes to override a Governor's veto in the House or Senate. For more information and data about the 2018 midterm election, click here. 

LEAGUE SUPPORTed ballot proposals 2 and 3 - BOTH PASSED!

The League of Women Voters of Michigan supported Proposal 2, which will create an Independent Redistricting Commission. This constitutional amendment will establish an impartial commission of voters (not politicians) who will be charged with creating new district maps for state and congressional offices that cannot favor one party or candidate. This commission will operate in a completely transparent manner and will create maps based on fair criteria. Currently, politicians draw their own voting maps, and have the power to hand-pick their voters. Gerrymandering benefits politicians, and hurts the rest of us, regardless of our political preferences. When politicians choose their voters, our votes don’t matter and our voices aren’t heard. The League urged a YES vote on Proposal 2 so that voters can choose their politicians. For for more information, visit votersnotpoliticans.com

The League also supported Proposal 3, "Promote the Vote", which helps ensure that every eligible person can vote and every vote will count. This proposal safeguards our elections with audits and more accurate voting lists and removes barriers that can make it harder for citizens to fulfill their responsibility to vote. This constitutional amendment will:

  • Protect the right to vote a secret ballot
  • Ensure military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count
  • Provide voters with the option to vote straight party
  • Automatically register citizens to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless the citizen declines
  • Allow a citizen to register to vote anytime with proof of residency
  • Provide all registered voters access to an absentee ballot for any reason
  • Ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections by auditing election results

Many Michigan City and Township clerks support the proposal. Read the press release here from the Lansing Area Clerks who endorse Proposal 3 because it will boost voter participation and protect election integrity. The League urged a YES vote on Proposal 3 which provides a common-sense approach to removing barriers to voting for working families, safeguarding our elections and putting voters first. For more information, visit promotethevotemi.com.

REDISTRICTING REFORM IN MICHIGAN

The League of Women Voters of Michigan supported the ballot proposal initiated by Voters Not Politicians (VNP), that calls for an Independent Commission to establish district lines. The League congratulates VNP on the successful passage of Proposal #2 on the November, 2018 ballot. 

The League of Women Voters of Michigan continues to educate Michigan voters about the need for redistricting reform. Redistricting is a complicated topic, but citizen involvement to make this process fair is critical. Click here to visit our Redistricting "Issue" page to read more about the process in Michigan. The League is committed to redistricting reform in Michigan and to working to form a diverse coalition. Using the attached Power Point presentation, League members are travelling around the state educating voters about the redistricting problems in our state and the need for an Independent Commission. If you represent a group that would like a presentation by a LWV speaker, please contact the League of Women Voters of Michigan's state office at 517-484-5383.

LINE 5 PIPELINES:  AN AVOIDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK

The League of Women Voters of Michigan is one of 21 members of the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition that sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ("MDEQ") and the US Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps") on June 29, 2017 regarding Enbridge Oil Company’s joint application to the MDEQ and the Corps (No. 2RD-DFDK-Y35G) to install 22 anchor supports on the Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits. The Coalition members are Michigan organizations dedicated to the protection of Michigan’s water, natural resources, public trust in those resources, the environment, communities, and the health, safety and general welfare of citizens.

The Coalition organizations are requesting that MDEQ and the Corps take the following actions with regard to Enbridge’s joint application:
1. Reject as incomplete due to its overly narrow scope of review;
2. Require a comprehensive review of Line 5 in the Straits that includes an assessment of adverse environmental impacts, risks, and feasible and prudent alternatives;
3. Temporarily terminate the transport of crude oil in the Line 5 pipelines during this comprehensive review; and
4. Hold a formal public hearing given that Enbridge Line 5 occupies publicly owned waters and bottomlands and the threat of a catastrophic oil pipeline rupture to the Great Lakes are of tremendous controversy and have generated an extraordinary level of public engagement. Read the entire letter here.

Other resources:
Under-the-Straits tour of Pipeline 5 (3 min. video)
Area businesses expressing concern about Pipeline 5 (3 min video)

ADVOCATING WITH THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS:  WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1. Join the LWV
    a. Connect with people who share your democratic values
    b. Share in decision making and work
    c. Know you are a part of bigger coalitions

2. Learn About Issues
    a. Improve your general knowledge of issues – learn from others
    b. Focus on issues important to you – Share your knowledge
    c. View issues from a broader perspective – respect people’s right to different viewpoints

3. Strengthen our Voice & Establish Relationships
    a. Engage
    b. Mentor
    c. Demonstrate
    d. Advocate

4. Be Realistic – build bridges, not walls
    a. Compromise
    b. Non-partisan solutions

5. Stay Positive
    a. Hard work needs positivity – remember to have some fun
    b. Avoid burnout - take time for yourself & your loved ones

THE LEAGUE ADVOCATES FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT
The advocacy arm of the League of Women Voters of Michigan is hard at work. We monitor legislation as it is introduced and makes its way through the legislature. We also review proposed regulations which may impact environmental or public policies. Using state or national League positions, the Michigan League takes action when possible. Letters to the governor, legislators and other decision makers are routinely sent by President Judy Karandjeff, and when allowed, the League also delivers testimony at public hearings. This year, the League's advocacy has been focused on legislation concerning voting rights, environmental issues and the Flint water crisis. Check out our coverage of recent advocacy by reviewing a list of letters, press releases and testimony here.
THE GOAL: BECOMING A TOP TEN EDUCATION STATE
The Education Trust- Midwest, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization, has published their 2016 Michigan State of Eduction Report. Titled, "Michigan’s Talent Crisis:The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan's Broken Public Education System."  The report deals with steps to reach the goal of becoming a top ten education state. Today, Michigan's K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In a little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. This is a devestating fall. Read the annual report here.
CURRENT LWVMI NEWSLETTER
Click here to read the July 2018 newsletter.