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'Redistricting Michigan': GR residents turn out to offer insight on proposed state and federal boundaries

The Independent Citizen's Redistricting Commission came together after voters approved its formation in 2018
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Posted at 4:12 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 10:36:47-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — About a hundred people showed up to a ballroom inside DeVos Place Friday afternoon to offer their thoughts on how Michigan should go about redrawing its federal and state political boundaries.

The state of Michigan is in the process of redrawing the boundaries for our 13 congressional districts, 38 Senate districts and 110 House districts.

SEE MORE: Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission hosts public hearing in GR

In 2018, more than 60 percent of voters approved the formation of an independent commission to head the process. The 13-member Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission was formed in response.

The commission has already held two previous public-comment sessions across the state, listening to insight on the maps that, once approved, will be in place for the next decade.

One of the groups that was part of drafting the 2018 legislation, Voters Not Politicians, held a press conference Monday morning to speak on the process, and how it was going.

“There's a lot of things... the commission is working through, there's a lot of criticism, you know, of the condition of the maps, but there are also a lot of... positive stories here as well," Nancy Wang, executive director of the group, said in Friday's conference.

At the public comment, later in the afternoon, commissioners spent the better part of the day listening, as one person after another approached the microphone.

“I want to see fair and competitive districts; your current maps are not yet there,” one woman told the commission.

Another woman added, "The commission, as they say, are trying to create more diversity in elections and representation; however, dividing an already fragmented and polarized America is not the way to do this.”

RELATED: Michigan redistricting panel: 'Show up, speak up' on maps

Each person got a minute and a half to speak before an alarm would go off.

“Part of the process was to keep it open, transparent and allow public participation," Commissioner Steven T. Lett told FOX 17.

"We take them as we get them, and they are welcome to tell us what they think of the maps.”

At this point, they have 10 preliminary maps drawn out for people to critique or build upon.

Another commissioner, Richard H. Weiss, said, “For every person who doesn’t like a particular map, you may find somebody else that does like it, so we’ll have to take all this information, take it back, and deliberate which is the best choice.”

After Friday's session in Grand Rapids, the commission will hold two final public-comment meetings on Monday and Tuesday, in Gaylord and Flint respectively.

They will then spend Wednesday, Thursday and Friday deliberating the maps among themselves.

Commissioner Lett told FOX 17, “We'll take their comments into account. We’ll go back, we’ll look at the maps, and see if there are things we can change to make them better, and move on.”

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