Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Democracy Drumbeat: January 4, 2022

This week’s issue is a special edition, focused entirely on Michigan’s redistricting process, including an overview of last week’s vote on final maps, where the process stands now, and where we go from here, along with resources and information about how you can engage.

Redistricting: Special Edition

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted on the final maps using just the first of three scheduled voting and deliberation days. On Tuesday, December 28, 2021, the Commission voted to approve the following maps:

  • Congressional - Chestnut (you can view the new district lines here)

  • State Senate - Linden (you can view the new district lines here)

  • State House - Hickory (you can view the new district lines here)

Despite breaking news just before the start of last Tuesday’s meeting that one Commissioner might seek a court order to allow a new individual map to be submitted, each of the three maps swiftly achieved constitutional majorities. A constitutional majority in this instance required seven votes for a map to be approved, made up of at least two Commissioners from each of three categories: Democratic-leaning, Republican-leaning and Independent.

While Michiganders should celebrate the success of our state’s first-ever independent, citizen-driven redistricting process – including engagement of Michiganders from across the state through countless public hearings and hours of testimony – legitimate concerns over ensuring representation that reflects the communities within the new districts remain and deserve attention.

Our redistricting lead, Mark Payne, closely followed proceedings and provided testimony encouraging the Commission to allow additional time to map State House districts, and if they proceeded, to follow outlined voting procedures in the spirit of transparency.

Following public testimony, the Commission revisited concerns regarding the threshold of Black Voting Age Population, especially in State House districts. Both the Commissioners and Voting Rights Act Attorney Bruce Addelson referenced the final report from the Commission’s Racially Polarized Voting Expert, Dr. Lisa Handley, as an example of why they had sufficiently considered these issues.

The portion of the report drew particular focus (Table 10, Page 26), however, because it misidentified State Senator Marshall Bullock as a white candidate and cited inconclusive primary voting patterns in Detroit. Senator Bullock is, in fact, Black, and Democracy For All Director Clare Allenson’s identification of the error illustrated that the Commission was operating on faulty analysis.

In response to the identification of this egregious error, the Democracy For All team coordinated with Senator Bullock and Senator Adam Hollier to organize a response that called on the Commission to take more time to consider and correct the error.

Instead, the Commission decided to move forward with the final vote and subsequently approved all three maps.

On January 3, 2022, a group of Detroit Legislators announced plans to sue the MICRC because of alleged Voter Rights Compliance. More details can be found here. Other suits may follow.

Next Steps:

  • The Commission will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis until maps become law. The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, January 13, 2022 at Cadillac Place, Room L-150, 3044 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. These meetings will be open to the public.

  • The Commission is required to publish final maps within 30 days after adopting a plan, including reference materials and data used in drawing the final maps and any programming information used to produce and test the plan.

  • The adopted redistricting plan with new legislative boundaries for the State House, State Senate and Congressional districts will become law 60 days after publication.

  • The district maps will take effect before the 2022 primary and general elections.