Lines drawn

Gerrymandering in America puts your vote in politicians’ hands

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The American voters’ biggest enemy is in the size of our nation. This enemy lurks in every corner of our states and takes a new form every 10 years. Its name: gerrymandering, and Michigan is fed up with it.

If young voters wish for their vote to count, it is time to up in arms this intercontinental terrorist. Gerrymandering has slithered its way around our political scene since its birth, and was defined in the 1810s.  Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, who was in office 1810-1812, signed a bill that redrew district lines. The new districts were misshapen and benefited Gerry’s party, the Republicans. One district was reported to look like a “salamander,” to which a federalist replied “No, it’s a Gerrymander.”

The term stuck as the act of changing district boundaries in an effort to benefit one party, while hurting the other.

The idea is not a dusty history lesson, however, as Michigan has had issues with it very recently.

In 2010, the new Michigan census became available, and the following year, there were emails sent showing Republicans deciding how to give themselves an advantage over the Dem garbage.

This initiative lead a lot of people to want change, including Katie Fahey, president of Voters not Politicians (VNP), who decided that she could help solve this problem.

The solution: Stop moving the lines. Voters not Politicians is a registered ballot committee that aims to put politics in the hands of the people, not in the hands of what VNP calls “manipulating” politicians.

That is when they decided to work on a proposal.

Retired media specialist Deb Overbey did volunteer work for Voters not Politicians in Dexter.

“I felt it was my responsibility to get involved in the political process,” Overbey said. “I think gerrymandering all over the country is a fundamental problem to fair representation and just flat out wrong.”

Overbey lives in District 8, an excellent example of the problem. “I happen to live in one of the worst gerrymandered districts in the state,” Overbey said.

She is not the only resident who supported the bill, and it makes sense why.

Michigan’s average gerrymander index score in 2014 was 71.46, with 100 being the worst, according to The Washington Post.

Proposal 2 passed in Michigan with 61 percent of Michigan residents in support.  The proposal puts volunteering voters into power, choosing 13 of them to be in a redistricting committee. The committee will be made of 4 Republicans, 4 Democrats and 5 voters who don’t identify with either party.

The proposal is an attempted fix at a big problem. In fact, Michigan is not the only one affected. Both Pennsylvania and New York had possible gerrymandering problems in 2012, with Republicans and Democrats believed as the culprits, respectively.

Gerrymandering is just another way for politicians to ruin American voters’ first system, and unfamiliarity of the concept allows parties to continue expanding the practice. It is extremely difficult to charge in court, which allows politicians to keep doing this.

To be able to find a solution, we need to understand the problem. We are smarter than these deceitful, slimy politicians think we are.

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