Our democracy requires a spirit of decency, civility and unity with a common purpose for our common good, that we resolve our differences by seeking and speaking truth, and that we hold free and fair elections and respect their outcomes.
Citizen Crusaders – Heroes of American Democracy
A young Michigan woman's effort to reach out on Facebook after the 2016 election led to the formation of a group of concerned citizens who challenged the partisan gerrymandering in Michigan that they felt needed to be changed. Their focused efforts led to the passage of Proposition 2, a ballot initiative that passed in 2018, creating an independent commission to undertake the usually highly politicized task of redistricting.
The Independent Commission, comprised of 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans and 5 independents, was tasked with creating redistricting maps under criteria designed to promote fairness and transparency, focusing, for example, on:
- Compliance with all federal laws.
- Geographically contiguous and reasonably compact boundaries.
- Reflecting the state's diversity and communities of interest.
- No disproportionate advantage to either political party, incumbent, or candidate.
Experts have praised the draft maps for their effort to bring balance and competitiveness to the voting process. States that have created independent commissions designed to avoid the shockingly partisan gerrymandering currently taking place in several states should be supported and emulated for their efforts to protect the right to vote.
Threatening Death and Bodily Injury to Election Officials – Democracy Threats
An investigation of efforts to intimidate local election officials following the 2020 election revealed 102 instances where supporters of former President Trump in eight states threatened death or violence against state and local election officials, based on unfounded claims of election fraud. As a result of the threats, Republican and Democratic election officials are quitting, seeking police protection, and fleeing to safe havens to escape threats of violence to themselves, their spouses, their children and their elderly parents.
To address these increased threats against election workers, the Department of Justice launched a law enforcement task force to investigate efforts to intimidate public officials and employees trying to do the difficult job of running a fair election process in a time of virulent partisan divide.
As the investigations develop, experts have reported that the threats are credible and unprecedented in number. It is unconscionable that officials at the local level are at risk for simply carrying out their role in the election administration process. As more states pass laws that would politicize the oversight of elections, the most fundamental aspect of democracy – the right to vote – is at risk.