Community Voices

I have been privileged to help Minnesotans who have voting questions by working on election protection during many past elections. I applaud public officials who are working to make voting fairer and safer, both in our state and our country.

One major problem area in voting rights is partisan gerrymandering. There are many definitions of gerrymandering. Mine would be this: Politicians and political parties put voters in unfair voting districts so most political races are then not decided by voters but by the politicians and political parties. (For an excellent article on how gerrymandering works, find the 2015 Washington Post article titled “This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see.”)

In gerrymandered districts, the districts tend to be safe for the politicians, as voters who might oppose them are crammed into other districts. Partisan gerrymandering allows politicians to be elected who are more politically rigid. Thus this partisan rigging of the voting districts causes more gridlock and makes reasonable compromise and good government more difficult.

Recently our U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ducked the issue of partisan gerrymandering in the combined cases of Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek. As the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Common Cause put it, “The Supreme Court had the opportunity to end partisan gerrymandering once and for all but instead a narrow majority chose to wash their hands of the undemocratic practice. In a democracy, voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around, on Election Day.”

According to a recent USA Today article, former president Barack Obama has launched a national campaign against partisan gerrymandering and to “restore fairness to our democracy and ensure every American has an equal say in our government.” Obama said, “The movement for fair maps will determine the course of progress on every issue we care about for the next decade.”

The project, named Redistricting U, is a free, in-person organizing training initiative that trains volunteers. Note that the project is not looking to make districts favorable to Democrats, just fair to all voters. That is what we need.

Our Minnesota secretary of state, Steve Simon, worked very hard to get the maximum federal funds to make our state election system as safe as possible, according to the Star Tribune.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, introduced major election security legislation. The Election Security Act would require backup paper ballots and provide election security grants to states for cyber improvements and audits, according to her office.

These public officials are working to protect the voting rights of all of us, not just for their political party. I hope we can all agree that we should all work to protect our voting rights and support public officials who are trying to protect our most important right, the right to vote.

Kerry Meagher is one of several people in the Savage community who write for Community Voices – a column appearing weekly in the opinion and commentary section of this newspaper.

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