2021 is a historic year. Every 10 years in coordination with the Census, states draw new lines for federal and state legislative districts. The particular significance of this year’s process is that voters, not partisan legislators, will be drawing the lines.
In November 2018 Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment that established criteria for the creation of a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC). Any registered voter could apply to be on the MICRC, 4 Republican, 4 Democrat and 5 Independent members were randomly chosen to make up the body of 13. The MICRC has been meeting since September to carry out the task of redistricting. Another major change to legislative redistricting in Michigan was the addition of new criteria. Along with compliance with federal law, it is now mandated that districts reflect the state’s diverse populations and the consider the new criteria of “Communities of Interest.” (COIs)
Communities of Interest are population areas, contiguous on a map, that have a common bond through shared cultural, historic, economic or other interests (e.g. agricultural, watershed or lakeshore issues, nuclear power plant, medical/social services, etc.)
It is hoped that the use of COIs as one of the bases for redistricting will:
Throughout Michigan 16 public hearings will be held around the state. Western Michigan hearings easily accessible to Allegan and Van Buren County will be in Lansing 5/27, Muskegon 6/29 and Grand Rapids 7/1. ( See www.michigan.gov/MICRC for schedule.)
The League of Women Voters is reaching out to groups to tell them about the new Michigan Redistricting Process, to help assess a COI and how to effectively participate in drawing the maps. If you are a member of a population group in a geographic area that shares common characteristics and feels that the legislative districts in your area have divided your group and diluted your influence with your elected representatives, then you may want to testify before the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
For more information about what is involved in testifying before the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, please contact Cathy Brockington at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s a member of the League of Women Voters of Michigan who has been trained specifically to assist citizens in presenting testimony so they can be heard and have input into the redistricting process. The League has guides for effective brief presentations and access to mapping software to draw the boundaries of your community so the Redistricting Commission can exactly see the geographical area that you are defining. She would be happy to work with you to create such a testimony and map.