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In Michigan, Legal Weed & Voter’s Rights Draft Blueprint for Political Success Nationwide

MIblueprint 1

We realize you’ve probably heard enough about politics for a while, but as all the data comes in from last week’s nationwide midterm elections, cannabis keep cropping up in headlines and analysis as the so-called experts try to figure out what sparked such high turnout. 4.3 million voters swarmed the polls in Michigan alone resulting in the highest voter turnout in the state since 1970. The state’s race for Governor and for Secretary of State both saw huge margins of victory by typical political standards with Democrat Gretchen Whitmer grabbing the governorship by 9.53% and fellow Dem Jocelyn Benson taking the latter by a margin of 8.81%. But it wasn’t the names in the races, or even the name of the current president, that drove most voters to the polls in Michigan.

Also on the ballot in The Mitten last Tuesday were three, and only three, Michigan-specific proposals.

You’ve probably heard about Prop 1.

With an 11.82% margin of victory, over 2.3 million Michigan voters made their state the 10th in the U.S. to legalize the cultivation, processing, sale , and recreational adult use of cannabis.

With a substantially higher margin of victory than even the already impressive races at the top of the ticket, clearly cannabis carried some clout into Election Day. But remember, there were two other proposals on Michigan’s ballots that day, and together with weed, they form a blueprint for future electoral success in all points on the political map.

Prop 2 in Michigan drew a very clear line on the issue of gerrymandering – one of the really sleazy aspects of local politics. It essentially means to redraw the boundaries of a particular voting district in order to corral certain voters into blocks to benefit one political party over another.

Traditionally this process has been done in backroom deals by local power brokers, and it often leads to a stark contrast and deep divide between voters and their representatives. This just furthers the counterproductive narrative that “all government is bad” or that “voting doesn’t matter”, both of which only benefit those power hungry players behind the scenes.

Michigan is considered to be one of the most heavily gerrymandered states in the country.

In 2010 the Republicans in charge flexed enough power to redraw the state’s congressional districting map. In 2016, Democrats won over half the votes cast in statewide congressional elections, but Republicans still managed to take most of the seats that were up for grabs.

                                               This map of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District shows just how illogical the process has become. (Dems won the race there 81-17 last week)

Michigan is one of 28 states that puts this redistricting power in the hands of the state legislature. The problem is that whichever party is in power then has the ability to tilt the playing field in their favor for years to come…at the expense of the integrity of our democracy.

Prop 2 will rewrite the state’s constitution and create an “Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission”, made up of 13 members – 4 republicans, 4 democrats, and 5 independents.

Prop 2 supporters crushed the opposition 61-39 and motivated 2.5 million voters to take the power back.

Prop 3 in Michigan was also aimed at preserving democracy, and encouraging voter turnout…and that it did. With another resounding victory, 67-33, Prop 3 will reduce unnecessary barriers to voting that currently exist in the state.

Among the many facets of this successful measure, Prop 3 will ensure that

  • All voters’ ballots are safe, secure, and private

  • Now military members serving out of state or overseas will be sure to receive their ballots with enough time to have their votes counted

  • All registered voters now have the right to an absentee ballot for any reason

  • And now, thanks to Prop 3, voters will be allowed to register to vote by mail up to 15 days before an election and can register in person up to, and even on, Election Day

All three of these measures have crossover appeal that party/personality politics inherently lacks.

That is the blueprint right there.

Give people a reason to go vote that isn’t attached to a particular candidate.

Although neither major political party has fully embraced the idea of legal weed…yet… the results in Michigan this year saw three Dems installed as Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. All three rode the wave of popularity generated by the three slam dunk proposals further down the ballot.

So if you are an activist looking to get a jump on 2020 in places like Texas, Florida, or Georgia… or even in a place like Missouri that passed a half-baked medical marijuana law this year but still elected a bunch of ghouls to positions of power, look at the blueprint used in Michigan where it won’t just be voter turnout getting higher for years to come.

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