LANSING, Mich. — Ballot Proposal 2, passed in 2018 by over 61% of Michigan voters, created the Michigan Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission and requires that it meet ten times before they put pen to paper on drawing the state’s new congressional districts.
“Our commission is made up of overachievers,” said Sue Hammersmith, executive director of MICRC. “So there'll be 16 initial public hearings.”
The first was held Monday afternoon. Leaders of the new commission were joined by a representative group made up of Arab group ACCESS, the Michigan NAACP, the Michigan League of Women Voters and rural Centerville County Commissioner Jim Schwantes.
It marked the launch of not only their schedule of public forums, but also the first day of public comment.
“Communities of interest, for the first time, are going to have a voice to prevent gerrymandering and to prevent the division of neighborhoods for partisan gain, which can harm communities,” said Rebecca Szetela, a commissioner and the vice chair of MICRC.
The commission is made up of Michigan citizens who went through an extensive application process to form a group of four Republicans, four Democrats and five independent members, tasked with redrawing Michigan’s highly-gerrymandered congressional districts.
In considering the new lines, the commission has a few things to consider; first, each district has to have as close to equal population as possible, and can’t favor one political party over another. The districts also have to be geographically contiguous, meaning locations in each district have to be relatively near each other.
“So we can't have Traverse City and Detroit connected unless there's a line drawing them together,” said Szetela.
Michigan currently has 14 congressional districts, but new U.S. Census data shows the state will lose one in the coming year. Because of a delay in the most recent census data, the MICRC asked the state for more time in drawing the new lines with a new deadline of November 1.
For a schedule of the upcoming MICRC meetings, click here.
To watch all past meetings, click here.
To submit public comment online, click here.
To submit a written public by mail: Michigan Independent Citizen’s Redistricting CommissionP.O. Box 30318, Lansing, Michigan 48909