LANSING, Mich. — A few years after Michigan voters approved an anti-gerrymandering proposal, Michigan’s Independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission is starting to draw new political maps.
It's a tough task but commissioners are making headway and the public is getting a look at every step. Though their first drafts have been eye-popping, especially the 13-seat congressional district map.
Michigan will have one less U.S. House seat and the work-around is shifting districts all over the place. In the first draft, the proposed 12th district would stretch more than 500 miles from the tip of Copper Harbor down to Carson City, encompassing the UP and touching areas of West and Central Michigan.
That draft gaining the ire of both Democrats and Republicans alike, for how it would shake things up.
“It pretty much destroys the 7-7 split of the congressional delegation, it would look something more closely to an 8-5, 9-4 split [favoring Republicans], Democrats are upset about that. But with the Republicans, they're upset because it locked in three of their incumbents into the same district,” explains Ben Solis, who covers redistricting for Gongwer News Service.
Speaking of Muskegon, here's the ugly district they just created as a test to see if they could reasonably get away with combining Muskegon and Kent with a tendril of townships. Adelson said it still isn't able to elect a Black candidate of choice, so this is not advised. https://t.co/YJaHsfUl7p pic.twitter.com/ml6Kj3dyvw— Ben Solis (@bensolis1) September 20, 2021
Their process of map-making is transparent and commissioners are taking public comment and working off it. At their meeting Monday, MICRC started revising that congressional map and come up with something more palatable, at least at first glance.
“That's just kind of illustrates how quickly things can change. You have this really radical, very controversial map that nobody likes, and then the next day, they listen to those public comments, they fix some things, and hey, the map actually shakes out,” Solis added.
The process is moving along, but there’s still a long way to go until maps are proposed and eventually finalized. The commission has been delayed due to a delay in census reporting and will not meet deadlines, eventually, they will likely face lawsuits.
"We'll probably see some lawsuits popping in the next few weeks if someone wants to challenge the timeliness of it," Solis explained. "If there's going to be a map content challenge, a lawsuit specifically to the content of the map, that likely would come the first of the year, because [the commission's] proposing that they might have these maps done, at least by December."
The commission is still accepting public comment, and they are meeting again Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.