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The Michigan State Capitol building. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

A ruling late Tuesday by Michigan's Supreme Court will allow voters in the state to decide on a November ballot measure seeking to rein in excessive partisan gerrymandering after conservatives sought to block the reform plan. 

Why it matters: This is a major victory for the grassroots activism group Voters Not Politicians, which seeking to limit lawmakers' control over the redrawing of state and federal electoral maps in one of the most gerrymandered states in the country.

  • A federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the current legislative and congressional maps drawn in 2011 unearthed records last week showing that Michigan Republicans had used the process to maintain electoral advantage over Democrats. The disclosure of private emails, first reported by Bridge Magazine, contradicts Republicans’ claims that the lines were not drawn with political bias.

The details: If passed, the reform measure would amend Michigan’s constitution to place a bipartisan independent redistricting commission in charge of redrawing maps. It would be comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans and five independent commission members — and would mandate a series of public hearings during the process. 

  • The state high court’s 4-3 decision comes after conservative groups appealed a lower court’s ruling allowing voters to consider the measure. Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers had approved the measure, but conservative challengers argue that changes to the state’s constitution should not be decided through a ballot measure — only a constitutional convention. 

The big picture: Election reform advocates across the country are increasingly turning to ballot initiatives to curb gerrymandering after the Supreme Court punted in June on two partisan gerrymandering cases.

  • Colorado will vote on two similar ballot proposals in November, and petition requests in Missouri and Utah are awaiting certification.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Beto not even best Dem against Abbott

Beto O'Rourke speaks at a rally at the Texas State Capitol in June. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s nine-point lead in a theoretical matchup against Greg Abbott shows just how vulnerable the hard-right Texas governor could be in a general election.

Why it matters: Abbott has won conservative accolades for his abortion, mask and vaccine bans. Axios reported Sunday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to announce a gubernatorial challenge — but a recent poll shows he’s not even the most popular Democrat in the state.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Delayed maps upend midterm campaigns

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Midterm candidates are panicking about how the congressional maps will ultimately be drawn, with several strategists telling Axios campaigns are in limbo.

Why it matters: Candidates are unsure if the district they're targeting will remain intact or be reshaped by the process. The uncertainty is especially vexing to Democrats, who are vying to maintain their narrow margin in the House.

First look: Conservatives' 2022 big target: Tax increases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative groups are unveiling huge ad-buys going after vulnerable House Democrats over tax increases and other revenue measures in their party's massive infrastructure spending bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats have an immense amount of political capital riding on a $3.5 trillion bill facing razor-thin margins in both chambers. Conservatives are running ads targeting the House members who leaders will need to pass the measure.