John Chamberlin explains Voters Not Politicians unique road to success
The midterm elections proved 2018 to be the year of the underdog. Michigan saw its fair share of history-making candidate and ballot proposal victories, with one that will have a particularly profound impact on the state’s political future. The story behind Michigan’s Proposal 2, including the initiative’s founder, were profiled in a November 7, 2018, article, “One woman’s Facebook post leads to Michigan vote against gerrymandering,” by Bridge Magazine’s Riley Beggin. In the article, Ford School’s John Chamberlin calls the feat to have even gotten on the ballot “an extraordinary accomplishment.”
Proposal 2, which places voting-district drawing in the hands of a diverse 13-person citizen commission, passed despite its modest start. The proposal, as well as the group that put it forth, Voters Not Politicians (VNP), are both the result of 29-year-old political novice Katie Fahey. Chamberlin, who has decades of experience working in and teaching on election and representation methods, reflected on the organization’s success and underestimation by opponents: “the fact that it was without much of an organization and without much money, I think they might have gotten taken too lightly by people who ended up opposing Prop 2.”
John R. Chamberlin is a professor emeritus of political science and public policy, having taught at the Ford school. He was the director of the Ford School's BA in Public Policy program from 2007-2011 and the director of U-M's Center for Ethics in Public Life from 2008-2011.