Voters Not Politicians wants to change the state constitution to create an independent citizen commission to draw political lines, taking the role away from the Legislature. The group would have to collect close to 316,000 valid signatures to get the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot. The proposal would establish a 13-member independent citizens commission on which independent voters would have five members, and the two major parties would each have four. The commission is expected to cost at least an extra $5.5 million a year, based on a formula by which an amount equal to 25% of the current budget of the Michigan Secretary of State would be appropriated to support its work, said James Lancaster, a Lansing attorney representing Voters Not Politicians. The money to support the commission would be in addition to what the Secretary of State’s Office now spends, he said.
Elected officials, lobbyists, party officials and other political insiders would be ineligible to serve on the commission, which would hold public hearings before approving proposed district maps by majority vote, with at least two votes required from each of the three groups represented on the commission.
While county lines and other municipal boundaries now form the building blocks of election districts, the commission would look at other factors, such as “communities of interest,” and seek to create districts that are politically competitive.