Strategic partnerships, education opportunities empower communities to have a say in map-drawing process
LANSING, Mich. – LLEAD testified yesterday in front of Michigan’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) at the Lansing stop of its public hearing tour. This community organizations is participating in Voters Not Politicians’ 2021 Communities of Interest Engagement Program, which ensures that historically underserved communities have the information and tools they need to strategically and effectively participate in Michigan’s new fair, impartial, and transparent redistricting process.
“We are pleased to have helped this vital local organization present their views of how legislative and congressional districts in their region should be drawn,” said Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians. “In that past, the public had no say in this process as politicians drew lines behind closed doors. Voters Not Politicians is committed to ensuring diverse communities of interest across the state have a voice in the process as the nonpartisan, impartial commission undertakes the important task of redrawing our election district maps.”
Voters amended the state Constitution in 2018 to put everyday Michiganders in charge of drawing the voting district lines. Now, the 13 citizens on the MICRC are responsible for drawing Michigan’s voting district lines, which will be used for the first time in the 2022 primary and general elections. An important requirement is that commissioners must consider information collected from communities of interest as they draw the districts. Communities of interest are ranked third in a strict set of mapping criteria.
“The concept of communities of interest is simple: To put people at the center of the redistricting process, we need to hear directly from communities about their shared interests to help inform the commissions’ decision making in the mapping process,” said Wang. “We’re excited to learn more about communities across the state and how Michiganders want to be represented. Historically, lawmakers and lobbyists drawing lines in secret have focused on voters’ party affiliation, not the interests of the community as a whole. Now, voters will choose their politicians, not the other way around.”
“Historically Michigan’s districts have struggled to accurately represent the makeup and will of communities and voters. As a voice for Michigan’s underrepresented LatinX communities, these hearings across the state are vital to ensuring the end result of the redistricting process includes the voices of ALL residents and puts the needs of the people first,” said Juan Marinez, Redistricting Committee Chairperson, LLEAD.
Voters Not Politicians is working directly with a number of communities of interest, particularly with traditionally underrepresented communities. The organization has received grants from the Joyce Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Kresge Foundation and the 2011 California Citizens Redistricting Commission to expand work with communities of interest. VNP is working with the following organizations as partners that will receive direct support to plan, finalize, and submit testimony to the ICRC:
- Oakland Forward
- Asian and Pacific Islander Americans (APIA)
- Latino Leaders for the Enhancement of Advocacy and Development (LLEAD)
- Action of Greater Lansing
- Ezekiel Project
- Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, Inc. (LA SED)
- Michigan Environmental Council (MEC)
- LGBT Detroit
- Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision
- Eastside Community Network
Voters Not Politicians continues to host online webinars for communities and organizations to learn more about the community mapping process. The organization launched www.votersnotpoliticians.com/coi to provide a number of resources organizations can use to learn more about the process and begin to develop, finalize, and submit testimony. Communities of interest are also invited to request a presentation from a trained VNP volunteer.
Voters Not Politicians is a nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to strengthen democracy by engaging people across Michigan in effective citizen action. Learn more at www.votersnotpoliticians.com.