Democracy Drumbeat: November 30, 2021
Redistricting: Special Edition
This week’s issue is a special edition, focused entirely on Michigan’s ongoing redistricting process, including an overview of the past several weeks/months, where the process stands now, and where we go from here, along with resources and information about how you can engage.
Since May, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) has been working on the important redistricting process of redrawing Michigan’s State House, State Senate, and Congressional districts and creating new district maps that will be used for the next decade. After months of hearings to gather input from the public, with an emphasis on communities of interest and fairness, the Commission has now voted to move forward nine draft collaborative maps (along with six of the commissioners’ own individual maps).
The process is now in the middle of a 45-day public comment period on the collection of maps the Commission has advanced. They will ultimately vote to select one of each - State House, State Senate and Congressional as final maps. The vote is currently planned to take place between December 28-30th. During the 45-day review period, Michiganders can provide comments that will help inform the Commission’s final vote. The first of three meetings took place on November 18th. With two remaining meetings, the public can attend either in-person or virtually to make their voices heard to the Commission and propose changes to the maps as they currently stand. Here is information on the remaining two meetings and when the Commission is expected to vote on the maps:
- Commission Meeting: December 2nd, G. Mennen Williams Building, A.G. Auditorium, 525 W. Ottawa St., Lansing, MI. To sign up to speak virtually please go here.
- Commission Meeting: December 16th, Cadillac Place, Room L-150, 3044 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI
- Commission Vote: December 28th, 29th, or 30th (TBD)
The public can also comment directly on each of the maps on the Commissions website here.
This is a testimony from our DFA Coordinator Mark Payne testifying at the MICRC’s last meeting here.
Where the proposed maps currently stand
The current proposed maps must be altered to better reflect partisan fairness, especially in the State House. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has argued that in their current form, the maps “dilute majority-minority districts and strip the ability for minority voters to elect legislators who reflect their community and affect any meaningful opportunity to impact public policy and lawmaking.” Of the maps that the Commission has advanced, the following maps offer the fairest representation for Michigan:
- Congressional - Chestnut (direct comment link can be found here)
- Senate - Cherry V2 (direct comment link can be found here)
- House - Hickory (direct comment link can be found here)
Current proposed maps & the Voting Rights Act
- The current proposed maps must be altered to better reflect the key requirements of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), especially the ability to elect a community’s candidate of choice. Recently the Attorney General issued an opinion saying that the closed door meeting held to discuss this issue likely violated the State Constitution. For more information read here.
- Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits “voting practices and procedures, (including redistricting plans) that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group.” - U.S. Department of Justice
- As they stand now, the proposed maps dilute voters’ ability to elect lawmakers who reflect community demographics, especially in the Detroit area, negatively impacting public policy and decision making.
The best of subpar options
- Although far from perfect, the Chestnut (Congressional), Cherry V2 (State Senate), and Hickory (State House) maps offer representations that fall closest to being considered “fair” in terms of adherence to the Voting Rights Act and partisan fairness scores.
- While not good enough, the Hickory (State House) map is the best of subpar options presented by the Commission.
- It is important to note that the Hickory map (State House) is closest to the mark in terms of partisan fairness, yet reflects only one seat shift and has two less Voting Rights Act districts compared to the currently enacted State House map, which was found by the courts to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered.
What must done to ensure fair, accurate maps
- The Commission is making good progress on improving the maps, but needs more time and input to ensure the new maps that will be used for the next decade are in adherence with the Voting Rights Act, scores of partisan fairness, and accurately reflect Michigan’s communities.
- The remaining two meetings offer Michiganders the opportunity to make their voices heard to the Commission and ensure the necessary changes are made ahead of the next vote in late December.
Redistricting Actions You Can Take:
- Comment on the maps directly using the links above or provide a general public comment through the portal at www.michigan.gov/micrc.
- If you would like additional details and information, please email our redistricting lead Mark Payne at [email protected].