Michigan's partisan gerrymander is gone. Next: partisan canvassing boards

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June 28, 2022
Kevin Johnson

This op-ed by ERN Executive Director Kevin Johnson and The People’s Katie Fahey originally appeared in Bridge Michigan.

In 2018, Michiganders of all sides won one of the greatest battles for basic fairness in the state’s history. Michigan “slayed the dragon” of partisan gerrymandering, taking election district drawing out of the self-dealing hands of legislators and political parties. Proposal 2 on the November 2018 ballot passed with 61 percent of the overall vote, and majority approval in aggregate across the counties that Trump carried by 25 points or more the prior election.

The independent redistricting commission created by Proposal 2 is a complex entity that wrestles with a difficult task, but the core principle is straightforward: politicians and political parties should not control elections in which they compete.

A violation of this same principle is at the heart of the next challenge the state needs to conquer. The 2020 elections made clear that political parties, through the state’s archaic canvassing boards, exert potentially dangerous control over Michigan’s process for certifying results.

Michigan’s 84 boards of canvassers, one for the state and one for each county, all have two Democrats and two Republicans selected from lists of nominees submitted by the two parties. Their most important role is to receive the underlying election results from officials, confirm that the totals add up, and pronounce the results certified. This is a purely administrative role.