The democratic process is fundamental to a healthy government and open society. Unfortunately, many systems and rules in our government currently stand in the way of democracy. We’ve seen the Supreme Court roll back voting rights protections and campaign finance limitations; unjust redistricting practices are used to affect election outcomes; Michigan’s emergency manager law has been used to prevent local governance. In order to address any of the policy issues we care about, we need to make government more democratic and fix structural flaws in the foundation of our democracy.
Supporting Voter Rights
Voting is the cornerstone of representative government, so our democracy is stronger when more citizens participate. For this reason, Christine supports many efforts that have recently been made to modernize and simplify voting in Michigan. Two notable examples are Pre-registration (allowing people to register to vote as early as 16 years old, with the registration only taking effect when they turn 18) and No Reason Absentee voting (allowing people to vote by absentee ballot without providing a reason they need to vote absentee). Pre-registration allows people to complete their registration paperwork when they get their driver’s license even if they do so before turning 18 while No Reason Absentee allows people to vote absentee without the state needing to validate and list every possible reason someone might need an absentee ballot.
Since the Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression laws have proliferated across the country. Voter suppression efforts have included onerous photo id requirements and limiting opportunities to register. Christine has fought anti-voter efforts in Michigan by voting to maintain the straight ticket option on Michigan ballots and voting against a bill that restricted the ability of local officials to educate the general public on ballot issues. We must continue working to make it easier for all people to vote in an efficient and informed manner.
Money in politics hampers the ability of lawmakers to serve as effective representatives of their communities. Time lawmakers spend fundraising cannot be spent doing their job, and money in politics presents the opportunity for large donors to leverage disproportionate influence in government. We need stricter disclosure rules for and stronger limitations on political donations.
Gerrymandering / Redistricting
Every ten years, after each census, the districts from which US and state lawmakers are elected must be redrawn to reflect new population information. Most states, including Michigan, place this task with the state legislature. Drawing districts in this way substantially alters election outcomes. In the 2014 election Republicans won 48.5% of all votes cast for representatives in the Michigan House yet hold 57.3% of all House seats. Some states have addressed this issue by switching to non-partisan commissions which do not have an incentive to draw districts favoring a certain party.
At the core of our democratic principles is the idea that voters have the right to choose their representatives. When legislators draw their own districts, representatives are choosing their voters. It is time for Michigan to form a non-partisan commission to draw districts and take this critical decision out of the hands of the legislature.
Emergency Manager Law
Michigan’s Emergency Manager law replaces local control and self-governance. At its core, it blocks local governments from serving their communities in favor of unelected managers chosen by the governor. Michigan voters rejected this law in a 2012 referendum. In response to this referendum, an only slightly altered version of the law was passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. Michigan must support its local leaders -- not usurp them.