Proposal 2 aims to end gerrymandering in Michigan, let citizen commission draw districts

Proposal aims to take power of drawing district boundaries away from legislature

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DETROIT – A proposal on the upcoming ballot is aiming to take the power of drawing district boundaries away from legislature.

Gerrymandering is a political strategy in which the party in control draws up voting districts in a way that benefits that party.

Supporters of Proposal 2 say their plan would eliminate the partisan influence in establishing voting districts.

The word "gerrymander" dates back to 1912 and Massachusetts Gov. Elbridge Gerry, who signed a bill to redistrict an area of North Boston to benefit his political party. A newspaper cartoon compared the contorted district to the shape of a mythical salamander and called it a "Gerry-mander."

The practice has thrived ever since.

People might think logical voting boundaries for a given district should be a certain way, but they can turn into contorted shapes designed to include desired votes and eliminate others. It happens all across the country, helping whichever political party is in power to stay in power.

Proposal 2 would create a commission of randomly selected voters with authority to assign district boundaries, taking that job away from legislature.

The commission would have 13 members -- four who identify as Republicans, four who identify as Democrats and five who consider themselves independent.

Currently, there are 21 states that use some form of nonpartisan or bipartisan commission to set district boundaries.

Michigan voters should remember to turn the ballot over when they vote, because the proposals are on the back. Vote yes on Proposal 2 to create the citizen commission, and vote no to keep control of the district boundaries in the legislature.

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