By Alyson Grigsby | July 1, 2021
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has finished the first round of public hearings as part of the state’s new redistricting process, 16 hearings in total across Michigan. VNP’s Deep Engagement Partners showed up in force at the public hearings to testify and submit their maps to the Commission.
Check out the testimony of Angela Wilson of the Eastside Community Network of Detroit, one of our Deep Engagement Partners
How big of a turnout has there been at the hearings?
During this first round of hearings, over 800 Michiganders like Angela have given public testimony to the Commission. On the MICRC Public Comment Portal, over 300 residents have given their testimonies digitally, and over 200 have submitted unique maps of their communities.
This mobilization would not have been possible without the active efforts of all of our VNP volunteers and staff. Through dozens of town halls, mapping workshops, speaking engagements, and public testimony presentations, we reached over 4,500 Michiganders across the state.
Why do Michiganders need to testify?
Communities across the state need to weigh in now in order to undo the harm caused by historic gerrymandering and they have the power to make their voices heard this summer.
In drawing the new State Legislative and U.S. Congressional districts, the Commission has to consider a variety of criteria to ensure that districts respect municipal and county boundaries, but most importantly, the boundaries of Communities of Interest (COIs). Linked by cultural, economic, or environmental interests, these COIs have been stripped of their voting power due to decades of gerrymandering and electoral misrepresentation.
The new redistricting process, however, has given a voice to these often marginalized communities, allowing them to give their input on where they live, what policies issues affect them most, and how the Commission can best represent them in district maps.
So what happens next?
From now until September, the Commission will draft district maps based on the public and written testimonies, and map submissions provided by Michiganders. Residents across the state will continue to make their voices heard.
We are encouraging people to continue to submit maps and testimony to the Commission, and comment on other submissions, via the Commission’s online portal. Even though the first round of public hearings is over, the public is able to submit input at any time, through the Commission’s approval of final maps.
Click here to submit your map and testimony to the commission.
The Commission is holding open meetings now to discuss how it will manage and consider all of the public submissions and what its map drafting process will look like. It will then draft the State House, State Senate, and U.S. Congressional maps, based on the release of the final 2020 census data around September 30, 2021.
Once the Commission releases the draft maps to the public sometime this fall, they will have at least five more public hearings before they approve final maps. During these hearings, Michigan residents and COIs will have the opportunity to give their testimonies for a second time and request edits to the draft maps. VNP will be alongside COIs through this second round of public hearings because once the Commission votes to approve the finalized maps, they will be in use until 2032.