LANSING – It’s true that every vote counts – but if you live in Michigan, your vote may have counted a lot more in this week’s primary election than it will in the November general election.
That’s because dozens of local, state and federal political districts in Michigan are not competitive – and they were drawn that way on purpose by political parties to keep themselves in power. In 96 out of 110 state House districts Tuesday, the partisan outcome was so clear that the other party fielded only one “contender,” likely to be little more than the name on a ballot in November with virtually no chance of winning.
“Now that the primary is over, thousands of Michiganders have cast their last relevant vote for 2012 for the Michigan Legislature,” said Kyle Caldwell, president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association. “For them, the outcomes of the general elections have been predetermined through redistricting that created safe, uncompetitive seats. That’s not how a model Republic based on core democratic values should work.”
According to a 2011 report by the Center for Michigan, only one in seven Michiganders live in a reliably competitive district; and in November 2010 alone, more than 1.4 million votes were cast for legislative candidates who had no realistic shot at winning.
“The result is that many lawmakers run far to the right or to the left of the center of their constituencies,” said John Bebow, president of the Center for Michigan. “That makes it difficult to compromise and come to a middle ground on the key issues facing our state – creating gridlock on issues from school improvement to infrastructure development.”
The Michigan Redistricting Collaborative — which consists of the MNA, the Center for Michigan, the League of Women Voters of Michigan and several other organizations dedicated to making redistricting more open and transparent – is calling on the Michigan Legislature to review redistricting in Michigan so a better, less partisan process can be put in place for the next redistricting in 2021.
“As of now, the redistricting process in Michigan is structured for politicians to pick their constituents, rather than the other way around,” said Caldwell. “That’s clearly a conflict of interest – and it’s the voters who are losing out. Where are the real choices? There’s a good reason to change the system now: today’s elected officials can do the right thing as they will not be in control of the Legislature in 2020, but waiting until then will be too late.”
Learn more about the MRC and redistricting in Michigan at drawthelinemichigan.org.