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News & Press: Legislation/Policy

NASW-Michigan Endorses Anti-Gerrymandering Ballot Proposal

Thursday, September 6, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Allan Wachendorfer
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NASW-Michigan Endorses Proposal 2 - Anti-Gerrymandering


NASW-Michigan is proud to endorse a YES vote for Proposal 2 this November - to end unfair gerrymandering practices and make every vote count equally. NASW has long said gerrymandering is a form of voter suppression that disempowers communities and is against fundamental social work values, such as self-determination, empowerment,

democratic decision making, equal opportunity, inclusion, and the promotion of social justice. Gerrymandering is unhealthy for our democracy because it causes party polarization, leads to voter apathy and frustration, and ultimately the disenfranchising of communities and reduced government resources to those communities who lose power because of it. NASW’s ability to achieve public policy goals and other political objectives depends on participation in the full spectrum of legitimate electoral activities. We congratulate the leaders of the anti-gerrymandering initiative and the hundreds of volunteers – including many social workers – who made this endeavor possible. NASW-Michigan strongly encourages all social workers to vote YES for proposal 2 on the November 9th election! 


Thank you to Kristen Columbus, MSW Candidate, MSU School of Social Work Policy Scholar for her outstanding work providing the resources below:




What does this ballot proposal do?


The proposal would change Michigan’s method of redrawing legislative district boundaries, or redistricting.  Right now, redistricting is done by the state legislature.  If approved, the proposal would amend Michigan’s constitution, and transfer this authority to an independent, non-partisan commission.


What’s the difference between redistricting and gerrymandering?


Federal and state law requires states to redraw boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts every 10 years following the U.S. Census.  The purpose is to ensure that shifts in population are fairly reflected by representation in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures.  For example, states that have gained or lost population since the last Census would likely gain or lose seats in the House. 


Gerrymandering happens when the redistricting process is abused by the political party in power at the time, in order to weaken the influence of the other party and that party’s voters. The intention is to make it easier for the party in power to stay that way, but that’s not how our political process is supposed to work.  In many instances, districts are gerrymandered specifically in order to deprive people of color of their political power.


How is this connected to the social work profession?


The NASW has stated that gerrymandering is one method of voter suppression (NASW, 2018).  From poll taxes and literacy tests in the 19th and 20th centuries to current cases involving voter ID requirements and gerrymandering, voter suppression has a long history in the United States, and continues today.  Social workers have worked to combat this injustice by leading voter registration drives during the Jim Crow era, and advocating for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as well as the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993.  Our advocacy has helped people become voters and reduce barriers to voting.  Now, we must act to ensure every vote counts!


What does our Code of Ethics Say? 


The NASW Code of Ethics is clear that social workers are to work for social justice, “particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people…social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people” (NASW, 2017).  Recognizing that all people have equal dignity and worth, social workers must help put an end to practices that strip individuals or groups of their political power.  The Code of Ethics also states social workers have responsibility to their clients as well as society.   Gerrymandering is bad for both! 


What can social workers do?


Regardless of practice area, every social worker in Michigan can act to help stop gerrymandering!


            *  Vote “YES” on this ballot proposal on November 6, 2018!

            *  Voter Registration efforts: The NVRA requires agencies that provide public assistance, or state-funded programs primarily to persons with disabilities, to provide voter registration forms and assistance

            *  Voter Education and Outreach: 501(c)(3) non-profit agencies can provide nonpartisan education about the voting process and issues that will be on upcoming ballot.   

            *  Be familiar with Michigan law relevant to populations that may face special barriers to voting, such as those with a felony history, individuals with disabilities, and members of the armed forces and their families who are stationed overseas.

            *  Visit NASW-MI’s Voter Rights Resource page:


NASW-MI supports this ballot proposal.  For more information, please contact Allan Wachendorfer, LMSW, NASW-MI Director of Public Policy:, 517-487-1548 x11




National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved from


Gutin, J., & Lowman, S. (Eds.). (2018). Social work speaks (11th ed.). Washington, D.C.:

NASW Press.


Lane, S. R., & Pritzker, S. (2017). Political social work. [Adobe].


Michigan Voter Information Center. (n.d.).


Voters Not Politicians:


Voting Is Social Work website:

Wilson, M. H. (2016). Voting rights update [Issue brief]. Retrieved from National Association of Social Workers:


Note:  The word ‘rights’ is misspelled in the Voting Rights Update’s URL, but the link provided here takes the reader to the document.  Spelling ‘rights’ correctly in the URL returns an error.

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