Voters Not Politicians collected about 1,200 signatures in Ionia County.
Voters Not Politicians, a statewide independent anti-gerrymandering group, submitted more than 425,000 signatures to the secretary of state on Monday.
Jamie Lyons-Eddy, the state field director for Voters Not Politicians, said the group found plenty of support from residents of Ionia.
Around 1,200 signatures to support the anti-gerrymandering cause were collected in Ionia County, she said.
Gerrymandering is the drawing of voting districts in a way that favors one political party over another. Michigan is one of 37 states that gives this power to the state legislature when districts are redrawn every 10 years.
In order for final maps to pass, a simple majority of each chamber of the state legislature must vote yes. The governor has the power to veto the redistricting plan.
However, when one party controls each of these areas, they effectively have full control over the redistricting process with zero input from other parties.
According to Voters Not Politicans’ website, currently legislators choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their legislators in Michigan.
“We are looking to take the power of redistricting and give it back to the people,” said Katie Fahey, president and treasurer of Voters not Politicians. “We want to take it away from the politicians to give Michiganders a voice again.”
If at least 315,654 of the collected signatures are deemed valid, a proposal from Voters Not Politicians would be added to the November 2018 statewide ballot.
The group’s proposal would create a commission of citizens to handle redistricting for the state.
The commission would be made of four Democrats, four Republicans and five members without a major party affiliation drawn randomly by the secretary of state.
It would not be allowed to provide advantages to one political party or another and would have to use partisan fairness when redrawing districts.
Lyons-Eddy said Voters Not Politicians collected signatures at a number of events in Ionia County during the past couple months, including an Ionia food festival as well as Ladies Night Out.
Volunteers also collected signatures at post offices, rest stops and other places people gather in Ionia, Lyons-Eddy said.
She said although signatures have been turned into the secretary of state, Voters Not Politicians still has plenty of work to do before the 2018 election.
“We are turning our attention in the next phase to fundraising and education,” Lyons-Eddy said. “We are planning on getting back out to talk to voters again in the spring. We feel like these one-on-one conversations are critical to being successful.”
— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelJake.