More partisan fighting over Michigan's new redistricting commission
Michigan's Republican-led Legislature is moving to give the state's new independent redistricting commission only three-quarters of the budget proposed by the Democratic governor.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had asked for $4.6 million to cover the start-up costs of the commission. But the legislators writing the state's spending plan for next year decided Thursday to allocate only $3.4 million and to put the panel's budget under control of the Legislature instead of the secretary of state, currently Democrat Jocelyn Benson.
It's the latest partisan battle over the new commission. It was created through a 2018 ballot initiative orchestrated by the grassroots group Voters Not Politicians in the hope of bleeding partisanship out of political mapmaking in Michigan — a presidential battleground and home to some of the most successful efforts at GOP partisan gerrymandering for this decade.
"These types of political games are exactly what voters stood firmly against in the last election," said the executive director of Voters Not Politicians, Nancy Wang.
Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in on what questions should be included in the application to become a member of the commission, Benson announced Thursday. The panel will draw the congressional and legislative district lines after the next census — unless it's thwarted by litigation filed by Republicans, who are challenging the constitutionality of the limits on partisan operatives as members.
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Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.
This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.
In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.
Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.
The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.