Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:
Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:
How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?
How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?
Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:
Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).
The State of Michigan's legislature is accused of drawing congressional lines to benefit the GOP. These partisan acts undermine democracy and disincentivize students from fully participating in the democratic process. Gerrymandering is the act of intentionally drawing congressional districts to include more supporters in an effort to "waste votes" and ensure a politician from one party wins that district. According to a study conducted by Princeton University, "The net effect is a change in the margin of about 15 Congressional seats, in a direction favoring Republicans." While there are 435 members of The House, the highly consequential Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was narrowly passed by just four votes. Each one of these seats is hugely important. Gerrymandering has allowed parties to win seats without having a majority vote in the state. According to the New York Times in reference to Michigan and a few other states in the 2016 presidential election, "no one would dispute that these lines were ruthlessly drawn to favor the Republicans." Students in the State of Michigan spend years in school learning civics and history and when they come of age they are ordained with the right to vote. However, due to partisan gerrymandering efforts by both parties many students and adults voices are being silenced without them even knowing it. A federal lawsuit was filed in Lansing by The Michigan League of Women Voters claims that the district lines were drawn in secret and done in a deliberative fashion to undermine minority voters voice. The suit goes on to say "Partisan gerrymandering inverts the Constitutional order by allowing those in power to treat voters as pawns to be shuffled back and forth based on their political allegiances, manipulating the electoral process in order to preserve and enhance the controlling party’s power,” This often overlooked problem ought to be addressed in an open and honest way as to maintain the integrity of Michigan's elections. This said I hope to develop pragmatic solutions to enable students to have their voices heard and their votes counted.
Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.
1. One solution to the issue of Gerrymandering in Michigan is using non-partisan committees to draw congressional districts. The group "Voters not Politicians" has taken this a step further in proposing a citizen-based commission to draw congressional districts. Further, these meetings would be transparent and open to the public. In their proposal under the section "The Rules That Must Be Followed in Drawing a Map" they clearly outline measures that would eliminate the possibility of gerrymandering by using: statistical weighting, districts that reflect the diversity of a community, measures to ensure that districts neither favor or disfavor incumbents, and that all districts should be compact. Gerrymandering is a deeply entrenched practice in Michigan and this solution addresses many of the flaws of the state legislature leading the congressional map drawing. Any citizen who meets the criteria outlined (not have held public office or worked for the state government) can apply to be apart of this commission. While the group of applicants may be self-selecting it is possible that unqualified applicants could become commissioners on such a committee. https://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/legal-work/Ballot_Proposal_Overview_MI.pdf
2. One solution to the issue of Gerrymandering in Michigan is using proportional voting. Proportional voting can take many forms but at its core, "Proportional representation is the idea that seats in parliament should be allocated so that they are in proportion to the votes cast." This would also help combat voter fraud and voter suppression. One form of proportional voting is PLACE voting, outlined in this article: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/place-voting-explained-129e65cbb625
In which Quinn states that "It’s [PLACE Voting] designed to bring the advantages of PR — including not just a closing of that gap, but also increased turnout, improved minority representation and gender balance, reduction in mudslinging, and even a boost to grassroots organizing—without giving up any of the advantages of the current voting method," Proportional voting is a threat to the current Two-Party System and would certainly be disruptive to the DC establishment. However, Proportional Voting would give minorities more of a voice in the legislature. Candidates would become more receptive to smaller constituencies and would be less likely to move to the center of their party for the sake of attracting new voters.
With the use of Proportional Voting, the American electoral system would look more like that of New Zealand. Which uses an MPP (Mixed Member Proportional) system that gives each person two votes: one for a candidate and one for a party. http://www.elections.org.nz/voting-system/mmp-voting-system
This is one solution to combating Gerrymandering that would require a shift in the way the Congress would work. Many parties would emerge and coalitions would have to form to dominate the legislature and pass legislation.
3. One solution to the issue of Gerrymandering in Michigan is using an algorithm to determine congressional districts based on census data inputs. The idea isn't any more complicated than that. This solution is arguably bias-free and would be the "fairest" way to draw congressional maps. It has been mentioned that the creator of such an algorithm could have some bias and give unequal weighting in the maths. Further, the algorithm would need to be updated and that would become a politically divisive issue.
Researchers have built statistical models to understand how an algorithm based map drawing would work. And published their work here:https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10589-017-9936-3
"Computer scientists are motivated by the belief that data and algorithms will create transparency in the notoriously opaque redistricting process by exposing the inputs and parameters that led to redrawing a district a certain way."
Similarly, Prof. Wendy Cho presented a model using an algorithm to judge the "partisaness" of a congressional district which could serve as a stepping stone toward full adoption. http://cho.pol.illinois.edu/wendy/papers/talismanic.pdf
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/7xkmag/gerrymandering-algorithmsReaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:
You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.
Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit. In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.
Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?
The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.Preambulatory clauses
These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.
(Add more "Whereas" clauses if necessary.)Operative clauses
These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....
(Add more "Resolved" clauses if necessary.)Counter-arguments:
What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?
3.Costs and funding:
What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from? Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?
These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.