Three days after Donald Trump’s election, Katie Fahey, a 28-year-old Michigander who works for a recycling nonprofit, sent a message into the Facebook ether, not knowing what might come of it. “I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan,” she wrote. “If you’re interested in doing this as well, please let me know.” To her surprise, the message got shared, and shared, and shared some more. Pretty soon the Facebook post had turned into a Facebook group with a couple hundred supporters of all political persuasions from all over the state—lawyers and veterinarians, teachers and doctors, stay-at-home parents and accountants and mailmen. Google Docs and conference calls ensued, followed by fundraising and the formation of leadership committees. By early December, an ambitious statewide campaign to end gerrymandering in Michigan had emerged, with Fahey at its helm.
“After the November election, people who hadn’t been involved in politics before started to pay attention,” says Fahey, who lives in the Grand Rapids area. “There was extreme frustration with the way things were being done.”
Fahey’s strictly nonpartisan group, which calls itself Voters Not Politicians, has channeled that frustration into a grassroots effort to alter the state Constitution and effectively prohibit partisan gerrymandering there. The group’s volunteers, who now number in the thousands, are presently collecting signatures to put an initiative to that end on the 2018 ballot. If they succeed, if they manage to break the power of entrenched politicians to shape election maps, Michigan’s voters will surely benefit from more representative political leadership.