OP-ED: Moving Forward with Election Reform

The 2018 election is over. While the state’s political landscape will have some changes come January, perhaps the most impactful results of the recent election were the passage of two election-related proposals. Proposal 2 amended the state constitution to move the task of redistricting from the state legislature to an independent citizens redistricting commission, and Proposal 3 amended the state constitution to establish eight new voting policies, including no-excuse absentee voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and the reestablishment of straight-ticket voting.

Proposal 2 faced well-funded opposition efforts from an array of groups that included the Michigan Republican Party, while receiving support from instate and out-of-state groups. Proposal 3 faced little organized opposition, and while the state Republican Party did not officially oppose the proposal, it certainly did not come out in support of it. The Michigan Democratic Party did not take an official stance on either proposal, but polls showed that most Democrats favored both proposals.

Redistricting reform and making it easier to vote do not have to be partisan issues; more importantly, they should be issues on which both parties can reach some common ground. I had my reservations on Proposal 2 and think the amendment has some flaws. I was also not a fan of Proposal 3 bringing back straight-ticket voting. But for better or worse, the proposals passed.

Opponents of the proposals now have two options. They can continue to fight what the voters overwhelmingly approved, or they can accept the outcome and work across the aisle to implement these reforms in a way that benefits the entire electorate.

Both Republicans and Democrats have a vested interest in ensuring that the other party does not abuse the citizens redistricting commission established by Proposal 2, and both parties have abused the redistricting process in the past. Most importantly, both parties should want to provide a fair system of representation for the people of Michigan. If both sides come together to ensure that the system enacted by Proposal 2 runs as smooth as possible, the people of Michigan will receive fair redistricting maps.

While there was less controversy regarding Proposal 3, establishing the logistics and infrastructure to ensure that same-day voter registration is both feasible and reliable is going to take time and effort. Adequate checks and balances need to be put in place to ensure that same-day registrants are not disenfranchised while maintaining the integrity of the voting process. The Republican-controlled House and Senate are going to have to work with Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to make that happen.

There may have been ideological differences about election reform going into the November election, but the people have spoken. It is time for both parties to come together for the good of Michigan voters and residents. During her campaign, Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson summarized what should be a universal goal across the political spectrum: “It should be easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

That is the principle that both parties should adopt as the state works to implement the election reforms the people voted for.