Schwarz fights to end gerrymandering, Chamberlin on redistricting challenges

December 14, 2017

Two Ford School faculty members were quoted in a December 7, 2017 article from the Battle Creek Enquirer, titled “Joe Schwarz champions push to end gerrymandering.”

Former congressman and long-time Ford School lecturer Joe Schwarz is advocating for a 2018 ballot initiative to reform Michigan’s redistricting process, which has been supported by a group called Voters Not Politicians.

Michigan is “one of the most gerrymandered states in the union… Battle Creek is an utterly perfect example,” Schwarz says. Battle Creek has been redistricted several times in the past three decades, after having been placed in a district with Kalamazoo for much of the 20th century.

The ballot initiative would change congressional and state legislative redistricting from being the responsibility of state legislators (which allows political parties to have a major influence on the shape of districts) to the responsibility of a bipartisan commission made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five non-partisan members – all selected at random by the Secretary of State’s office.

Schwarz believes that such a commission would produce legislative district maps that more accurately reflect voters in Michigan, who he says are roughly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. 

Supporting that point is Professor Emeritus John Chamberlin, who points out that while there will be limits to what a new redistricting commission will be able to achieve, because of phenomena like geographic clustering of voters, “it’s hard to imagine that an independent commission wouldn’t have yielded results closer to a 50-50 split.”

--By Jackson Voss (MPP '18)