Was the last re-drawing of Michigan’s political district maps so biased in Republicans’ favor, they were illegal? That question literally went on trial Tuesday, with a three-judge panel in Detroit’s federal court hearing arguments for and against Michigan’s 2011 redistricting maps. Democrats and the League of Women Voters took those maps to court. They claim that both quantitative research and insider emails show the state’s last redistricting was a conscious Republican gerrymander. The plaintiffs call it a “secretive, intense effort” to dilute the power of Democratic votes, and cement Republican advantages after the GOP’s 2010 electoral wins.Full Article: Michigan's political maps go on trial in redistricting lawsuit | Michigan Radio.
Articles about voting issues in Michigan.
New evidence submitted on the eve of a landmark trial challenging Michigan’s GOP-drawn legislative districts appears to strengthen the claim the maps were drawn in 2011 for partisan, Republican gain. Emails and other documents filed over the weekend in federal court show that Republicans saw the redistricting process as a way to consolidate its power and ensure a GOP majority in the state house, senate and the U.S. Congressional delegation. “Now that we had a spectacular election outcome, it’s time to make sure Democrats cannot take it away from us in 2011 and 2012,” according to a “redistricting essentials” memo issued in November, 2010, by the national Republican Party and shared with the Michigan GOP just after it swept to historic majorities in Michigan.Full Article: New emails show Michigan GOP used maps to consolidate Republican power | Bridge Magazine.
A lawsuit alleging partisan gerrymandering by Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature is heading toward trial next week after a three-judge panel rejected a settlement proposed by Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and plaintiffs. Benson does not have the authority to enter into the proposed consent decree without the blessing of the Michigan Legislature, the federal judges said Friday in a ruling rejecting the deal, which would have required reconfiguration of at least 11 state House seats for 2020 elections. A trial in the high-stakes case is set to start Tuesday, but the U.S. Supreme Court could still intervene. GOP attorneys are attempting to delay the case, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday asked parties wishing to weigh in to do so by Monday at 11 a.m., a sign the High Court is considering the request.Full Article: Court rejects settlement in Michigan gerrymandering suit.
At least 11 of Michigan’s 110 House districts would be redrawn for the 2020 election under a proposed legal settlement announced Friday by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who said the deal would fix “egregious” examples of partisan gerrymandering. As part of her agreement with Democrats who sued, congressional and state Senate seats would stay intact. The Republican-led Legislature, which in 2011 drew the maps that are in question, would put in place new lines for 11 state House districts — subject to court approval. The number of newly cast seats would be higher, though, because of the impact on adjacent districts.Full Article: Michigan redistricting deal may lead to new state House map.
The Michigan Senate is looking to weigh in as a legislative body in the federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s existing political district lines as Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson seeks a settlement in the case. On Wednesday, the chamber passed a resolution via voice vote to grant Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey the authority to intervene in the case, which was initiated by the League of Women Voters in December 2017. Amber McCann, Shirkey’s spokesperson, said the motion to intervene would be filed sometime Thursday. The court has final say over whether that motion is granted. “As a whole, the majority leader thought it was important to insert the Senate into the legal proceedings in the event that the body is included in the settlement,” McCann said.Full Article: Michigan Senate looks to intervene in federal redistricting suit | mlive.com.
A pending settlement proposal in a federal lawsuit alleging unfair bias in political district maps will be limited in scope but could still give Democrats a narrow chance to upend Republican majorities in the Michigan Legislature. The suit alleges that maps approved by GOP majority lawmakers in 2011 intentionally diluted the power of Democratic voters. New Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and plaintiffs are negotiating “a compromise in which fewer than” 34 of the state’s 162 congressional and legislative districts would be redrawn for 2020 elections, according to a new filing. It’s not clear if proposed changes would have a ripple effect and impact other adjacent districts.Full Article: Michigan gerrymandering deal focused on redrawing specific districts.
New Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson moved Thursday to settle a lawsuit that challenges the state’s Republican-drawn legislative and congressional districts, a step that potentially could lead to new maps for the 2020 election. The Democrat, who took office two weeks ago, filed a brief seeking to halt a federal trial scheduled for Feb. 5. The filing says a resolution is in the best interest of the state and its voters, “as it will correct any lasting impact of impermissible partisan gerrymandering that may have occurred in the past.” Democrats and the League of Women Voters sued just over a year ago , alleging that Michigan’s U.S. House and state legislative districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered to dilute the voting power of Democrats. The districts were enacted in 2011 by the Republican-led Legislature and former Gov. Rick Snyder.Full Article: New secretary of state seeks to settle gerrymandering suit | News & Observer.
A Senate Republican power play proposal to shift campaign oversight from Democratic Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson to a new political commission is poised to die in the Michigan House. The House Elections Committee will not take up the controversial legislation when it meets Wednesday morning for the last time of the year, said Rep. Aaron Miller, who chairs the panel. With two days left in the lame-duck session, the proposal is “dead” in committee, Miller, R-Sturgis, said late Tuesday. “No games are going to be played tomorrow. Full disclosure, those bills are not coming up tomorrow.” While it’s possible the GOP-led House still could discharge the legislation from committee for floor action, a caucus source told The Detroit News that is not expected to happen.Full Article: Michigan House kills bid to strip power from secretary of state.
Three Michigan cities are testing a new process designed to provide strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is correct. The “risk-limiting audit” is a relatively new election security measure being tested across Michigan this week. It’s designed to detect irregularities that could influence reported election outcomes, including cyber-attacks and unintentional machine or human errors. The goal of the pilot will be to determine how risk-limiting audits could be rolled out statewide. Kalamazoo, Lansing and Rochester Hills will also pilot the procedure during the first week of December. “Our goal as election administrators is to foster confidence in the electoral process, the results of that process, and ultimately our democratic institutions,” said Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling. “Michigan voters put their faith in us to conduct free and fair elections. The Risk-Limiting Audit provides another tool and opportunity to demonstrate their trust is well placed.”Full Article: ‘Risk-Limiting’ Audits Could Provide Election Assurances.
The Republican-led Michigan senate has voted to bar the incoming Democratic secretary of state from enforcing campaign finance law, one day after Republicans in Wisconsin similarly took action to restrict the power of newly elected Democrats. The 25-11 vote, which fell along party lines, was the latest salvo by Republicans seeking to capitalize on a lame-duck session before handing control of the state’s top elected offices to Democrats. The measure is among several that opponents say ignore voters who spoke loudly at the ballot box during the midterm elections last month, sweeping Democrats into the roles of governor, attorney general and secretary of state in Michigan. The GOP-controlled state legislature also rammed through bills to gut the $12-an-hour minimum wage and paid sick leave laws, which are pending approval from the outgoing Republican governor, Rick Snyder. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is poised to take over the governor’s mansion on 1 January and would veto the controversial Republican legislation.Full Article: Michigan Republicans vote to strip power from incoming Democrat | US news | The Guardian.
Senate Republicans are advancing a controversial plan that would strip incoming Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson of the power to enforce the state’s campaign finance laws. The Senate Elections Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that would instead shift campaign finance oversight to a bipartisan committee. The six members would be picked from a list submitted by each of the two major political parties. The legislation is among a slew of lame-duck power play proposals by legislative Republicans, who will retain their majorities next year in the House and Senate as Democrats take over top statewide offices, including the secretary of state post that has been occupied by a Republican the past 24 years.Full Article: Mich. GOP panel votes to strip power from Democratic secretary of state.
Three Michigan cities are testing a new process designed to provide strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is correct. The “risk-limiting audit” is a relatively new election security measure being tested across Michigan this week. It’s designed to detect irregularities that could influence reported election outcomes, including cyber-attacks and unintentional machine or human errors. The goal of the pilot will be to determine how risk-limiting audits could be rolled out statewide. Kalamazoo, Lansing and Rochester Hills will also pilot the procedure during the first week of December. “Our goal as election administrators is to foster confidence in the electoral process, the results of that process, and ultimately our democratic institutions,” said Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling. “Michigan voters put their faith in us to conduct free and fair elections. The Risk-Limiting Audit provides another tool and opportunity to demonstrate their trust is well placed.”Full Article: New election security test will audit 2018 results in 3 Michigan cities | MLive.com.
Michigan legislators cannot write rules for an independent restricting commission without violating the constitutional amendment approved by voters last month, organizers of the ballot initiative argued Tuesday. A Republican proposal advanced by the Senate Government Operations Committee is unconstitutional and a “direct attack on the will of the voters,” said Nancy Wang, president of the Voters Not Politicians committee. The more than 2.5 million voters who approved the anti-gerrymandering measure “took the extraordinary step of amending our state constitution specifically to take politicians out of the redistricting process — period,” Wang told lawmakers.Full Article: Redistricting group argues GOP rules 'unconstitutional'.
A lame duck bill addressing the selection process for the state’s newly adopted citizens redistricting commission has the initiative’s backers crying foul. The proposal by Republican Sen. Phil Pavlov of St. Clair details rules and procedures for the selection of the commission, items already outlined in the Proposal 2’s language and, to some degree, left up to the discretion of incoming Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Another set of bills introduced by GOP Sen. Mike Kowall of White Lake the same day clarify some rules surrounding items approved in Proposal 3, such as same day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting.Full Article: Redistricting backers worried bill would alter voter-approved plan.
On Monday, Dec. 3, Rochester Hills will conduct Michigan’s first pilot of a risk-limiting post-election audit. Risk-limiting audits provide a check on election results. The procedure is designed to detect irregularities that may include intentional cyber attacks or unintentional error that may change the reported election outcomes. “Michigan voters put their faith in us as election administrators to conduct free and fair elections,” said Rochester Hills Clerk Tina Barton. “This procedure will provide us with another opportunity to confirm their trust is well placed.” The pilot is one of three to be conducted the first week of December and part of the first multi-jurisdictional risk-limiting audit pilot in the country. Lansing and Kalamazoo will hold their pilots later in the week.Full Article: Rochester Hills to conduct post-election audit | Local News | theoaklandpress.com.
Michigan’s temporary ban on straight-party voting marginally benefited down-ticket Republicans in this year’s election, but not enough to overcome a strong performance by Democrats, according to a Detroit News analysis. The ban, approved by the GOP-led Legislature in late 2015, was overturned through voter passage of Proposal 3, which will restore straight-party voting for future elections and preserve the option in the Michigan Constitution. Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer won her race by 9 percentage points, but Democrats won other statewide contests by narrower margins and lost a handful of critical legislative races to Republicans, who maintained majorities in the state House and Senate. Experts said the straight-ticket ban likely led to more ticket splitting, and unofficial results show a larger percentage of voters skipped lower-profile races, choosing to not complete their full ballots. That down-ballot drop-off had a larger negative impact on Democratic candidates, who traditionally have benefited from straight-party voting.Full Article: Straight-ticket ban helped Michigan GOP 'at the margins'.
On a potentially record-setting Election Day in Michigan, problems at the polls in metro Detroit popped up sporadically, leaving some voters waiting in line for more than an hour while others left altogether. Several would-be voters in Redford Township did not stay Tuesday morning while the lone voting machine at Pierce Middle School was being fixed, voter Rex Nagy said. “It stinks, it really does. So many people were upset,” Nagy said. In Detroit, voting equipment was not ready when the polls opened at Martin Luther King Jr. High School because a custodian did not know where the equipment was located, city elections director Daniel Baxter confirmed in a text message.Full Article: Problems at Michigan polls persist as voter turnout ramps up.
The State of Michigan will be running a pilot program auditing election results after the general election on November 6. Michigan will be part of a pilot program that will verify that voting equipment and election officials performed properly. “With this pilot of risk-liming audits, Michigan further bolsters its reputation as a national leader in election security and integrity,” Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said. “With our new election equipment and secure voter file, and now with our pilot of risk-limiting audits, we are well ahead of other states in strengthening election integrity.” Three cities in Michigan will participate in the pilot program, Rochester Hills, Kalamazoo and Lansing. “I thank the clerks in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Rochester Hills for stepping up and being willing to pioneer how these audits could work in Michigan,” Johnson said. “Their participation shows how much election officials across Michigan take election protection seriously and are working to further strengthen voting security and integrity.”
With the Nov. 6 election less than 30 days away, Michigan officials tout the fact that the state’s election machines are not connected to the Internet — eliminating a major hacking risk. But does that fact alone make Michigan’s election machines impervious to hacking? Many researchers and election integrity activists say no. They say Michigan could be vulnerable as one of at least four states — along with Florida, Illinois, and Wisconsin — that use cellular modems to transmit unofficial election results. In an Oct. 2 letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 30 academics, security experts and election integrity activists — including a computer science professor at the University of Michigan — expressed “grave concerns” about the devices.Full Article: Experts: Modem use makes Michigan elections vulnerable.
Eager to snap and post an online photo of your Michigan ballot in the Nov. 6 election? Think again. A legal dispute over photos in polling places still hasn’t reached the finish line, more than two years later. A millennial voter from the Kalamazoo area, Joel Crookston, filed a lawsuit deep in the 2016 election season to try to stop Michigan’s ban on taking photos of marked ballots or publicly exposing them. A violation can disqualify a ballot. U.S. District Judge Janet Neff granted an injunction, clearing the way for so-called ballot selfies. But a higher court stepped in and said the sudden change just days before the Trump-Clinton election would be a “recipe for election-day confusion for voters and poll workers alike.”Full Article: 2-plus years later, lawsuit over ballot selfies not over.