Brian MacKenzie: Look Who Wants to Block a Statewide Gerrymandering Vote

May 17, 2018, 7:38 AM

The writer, a Deadline Detrroit contributor, was a 52nd District Court judge in Novi and assistant state attorney general.

By Brian MacKenzie

If you're a registered voter, Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution (CPMC) claims you are stupid.

This shirt backs the anti-gerrymandering ballot proposal. (Instagram photo by Voters Not Politicians)

That's an insider political group which surfaces during election years. Its sole purpose seems to be to suppress ballot initiatives preventing voters from changing Michigan’s laws or Constitution.  This time it has filed a lawsuit claiming that you as a voter can't possibly understand a proposal to end the corrupt practice of gerrymandering. 

Funding comes almost entirely from a Michigan Chamber of Commerce political action committee that concentrates on ballot questions. The largest single contributor to this chamber committee is Enbridge Energy.  Enbridge is the Canadian owner of Line 5, the pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. In other words CPMC is funded by significant corporate insiders.

CPMC is using the money from these corporate insiders to sue the Michigan Secretary of State and Michigan Election Commission. The intent is to keep you from being able to vote Nov. 6 on whether to end gerrymandering. 

In its complaint, CPMC claims: "The scale and impact of the (Voters Not Politicians) Proposal is simply too great for its contents to be summarized for their presentation to voters in the voting booth." In other words, this ballot proposal has too many words and voters won't understand it. 

Here's the ballot landguage approved by the Michigan Election Commission to describe:

A proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution to create an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. If adopted, this amendment would transfer the authority to draw Congressional and State Legislative district lines from the Legislature and Governor to the Independent Commission. The selection process will be administered by the Secretary of State. Thirteen commissioners will be randomly selected from a pool of registered voters, and consist of four members who self-identify with each of the two major political parties, and five non-affiliated, independent members. Current and former partisan elected officials, lobbyists, party officers and their employees are not eligible to serve.

Did you understand? Not that hard, is it?

So why would Enbridge Energy support CPMC’s suit? Why would a corporation from a foreign country give money to a Michigan political action committee whose only purpose is to prevent people from voting on ballot initiatives? Why would a foreign corporation care about the scope and nature of Michigan's Constitution?

It cares because gerrymandering allows the manipulation of our political boundaries in order to allow politicians to pick their voters. This means that entrenched interests are able to choose politicians who deliver outcomes they want. 

Brian MacKenzie: "Enbridge expects the current system to elect politicians who support Line 5."

Enbridge expects the current system to elect politicians who support Line 5.

In 2010, Enbridge's Kalamazoo River pipelines ruptured, resulting in the largest inland oil spill in American history.  Since then there has been an effort to shut down Enbridge’s aging Line 5 pipes under the Great Lakes.

In 2016, the National Wildlife Federation polled Michigan voters asking whether they thought oil pipelines should be allowed under the Great Lakes. By almost a 2-1, the voters said no. They also asked whether the Line 5 pipeline should be shut down. Sixty-six percent of those polled said yes, with only 27 percent opposed to closure. 

Enbridge knows the average voter does not support Line 5. They also know that a legislature beholden to voters is much more likely to take seriously the dangers posed by Line 5 than a legislature that is indebted to corporations like them.   So, Enbridge is funding CPMC’s lawsuit against the proposal to end gerrymandering and betting that no one will pay attention to the ruling of elected appellate judges that will prevent voters from retaking control of their legislators. 


You can join the 425,000 registered voters who signed the petition to end gerrymandering with the establishing of an independent citizen's redistricting commission, and the more than 5,000 volunteers who gathered those petitions.


♦ Join Voters Not Politicians or donate to its legal fund.

♦ See more about the lawsuit.

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