Michigan redistribution panel to make history with adoption of new maps

“The purpose of this long and very ambitious democratic process has been to make sure that we have the cards that are fair,” Susan Smith, director of redistribution of the League of Women Voters of Michigan, told Bridge.


Michigan’s Independent Citizens Constituency Commission is due to begin its deliberations on the maps on Tuesday and may continue to finalize them until Thursday.

Voting is the culmination of a process that began in 2018, when voters changed the state’s constitution and created a panel to manage the drawing of legislative boundaries every 10 years.

For years, the ruling Lansing party mapped out the districts after the decennial census, a process that allowed Republicans to retain control of the legislature and create what a federal court called “gerrymander aux historical proportions ”.

The proposed cards would give Democrats – the party that receives the most votes statewide – an advantage in the majority of seats in the State House, the State Senate and the delegation of the State. Michigan Congress.

If voting patterns continue from 2020, Democrats would have the advantage of taking control of the state legislature in 2022. Republicans have held a majority in the state Senate since the 1980s, while the Congressional delegation is now divided 7-7 and loses one district. because of the stagnation of the population.

Once the maps are formalized, lawsuits challenging the districts are likely. Some black Democrats have vowed to continue because the current proposals reduce the number of majority-minority ridings.

Partisan fairness?

The commission has spent weeks in public meetings and forums drafting the maps, which, unlike those developed by lawmakers in years past, ignore the mandate.

An analysis from Bridge Michigan found that there were as many as three dozen proposed districts for the State House, State Senate, and United States House without incumbents, and 11 more that would have more than ‘a holder.

The commission drew up the maps using ranked criteria, along with partisan equity measures based on previous election results, to draw the new districts.

Unlike previous maps, districts generally do not stay within county or city limits. The commission did so to try to “unpack” the districts – those who are unbalanced for a party – and make them fairer, but it drew a backlash from black voters and community activists.

The Redistribution Commission argues that minorities can elect candidates of their choice with districts that are not predominantly made up of people of color.

Thus, they reduced the number of majority minority districts (districts where more than 51% of the population belong to a racial minority group) from 17 in the State House, the Senate and the Congressional delegation to a handle.

Others criticized the way the commission divided the neighborhoods, despite their status as communities of interest or “populations who share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests”.

Uncertain inheritance

Tony Daunt, executive director of conservative advocacy group FAIR Maps, told Bridge Michigan that the commission’s work had been an “abject and laughable failure.”

He questioned the commission’s methods to achieve fair partisan cards.

“These are all things – the voting rights law, communities of interest – that are above partisan fairness in importance, according to the Constitution, but there has never been a consistent application. “said Daunt.

Ultimately, the commission’s work will be judged on its ability to withstand legal challenges, said Adrian Hemond, a Democratic strategist.

“For all the complaints about how Legislative Republicans handled the last two reallocations in our state – and I was one of those people who complained about the unfairness of these cards – they stood up in court. “Hemond said.

But others point out that the commission has already made history by making public a process that was largely secret. The commission live-streamed all of its meetings (over 135) and collected comments from the public in person, through the online portal and by regular mail.

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