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Anti-gerrymandering petitions submitted

Posted at 7:22 AM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-19 08:32:03-05

It takes more than an hour to get from Eaton Township to Cambridge Township. Residents in both places, however, are part of the same legislative district thanks to gerrymandering.

Eaton, Jackson, and Lenawee counties, which make up the 65th district, are considered of the most-gerrymandered areas in Michigan.

Monday afternoon "Voters Not Politicians", a nonpartisan volunteer-driven organization, turned in petitions which they hope will take away lawmakers' power to draw district lines.

The organization said it gathered more than 425,000 petition signatures, which is 100,000 signatures more than they needed, and more than enough to put the proposal on the November 2018 ballot if the signatures are certified by the State Board of Canvassers.

The founder and president of "Voters Not Politicians" Katie Fahey said the organization drew in more than 4,000 volunteers to help get signatures, many who have never gathered to petition before. Fahey said it was easy because people are so fed up with the current process. "Right now the system literally could not get any worse it's completely partisan, it's done behind closed doors, there's no citizen involvement. And ours is doing the exact opposite it's bringing it out in the open, people being heard and drawing the lines in a fair and transparent way" said Katie Fahey.

Supporters said voter turnout has gone up in other states that took the power to draw districts away from lawmakers. They said people are more likely to vote and get involved when elections will be competitive.

The Michigan Republican Party is opposing the change. It claims Democrats are trying to change the redistricting rules because they can't win at the ballot box.

The Michigan Republican Party also said giving the job to a commission will give the voters less say.

The next time districts for the state legislature and Congress will be re-drawn is after the 2020 census.

Check back here for updates when the board makes a decision.