By Charlie Beall | September 9, 2021
In May and June, the MICRC completed a 1st round of 16 public hearings to gather input from communities about where boundaries should be drawn. They started to draft maps on August 20 (see discussion below). Under the redistricting amendment, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) must draw maps that “reflect the state’s diverse population and communities of interest” (COIs). VNP’s goal is to ensure that COIs have the information and tools they need to advocate for themselves.
Under the amendment, the MICRC must release final draft maps by September 17 for 45 days of public comment, and adopt final maps by November 1. The census delays made their adherence to those deadlines impossible. The MICRC petitioned the Michigan Supreme Court in May to extend that deadline, with Republicans opposing, but the Court declined, stating that no violation had yet occurred. The MICRC, to its credit, then announced that it would proceed on its own proposed deadline to ensure that the maps would be drawn using final census data in a manner that allows ample public comment as required by the amendment.
What’s Next: Commission Timeline (as of September 6)
Aug 20 – Sep 22 — Commission draws maps using non-final census data and preliminary 2020 election data; takes comment
Sep 23 – Sep 30 — Partisan Fairness Review & Deliberations
Sep 30 — Release of 2020 PL 94-171 census data (official data) from Census Bureau and final 2020 election data; MICRC reconciles with earlier data
Sep 30 — Commission votes to approve draft proposed maps
Oct 11 – Oct 28 — Draft maps using official data, 2nd round of public hearings around MI
Oct 29 – Nov 5 — Revise drafts and develop final proposed maps
Dec 31 — Deadline for adopting final maps
Michigan’s Independent Commission has begun mapping State House and Senate Districts!
On August 20th, the MICRC held their first, official mapping session. As of September 7th, the MICRC has drafted 56 State House districts (out of 110) and 19 State Senate Districts (out of 38) in the Central, Western, and Northern regions. Beginning on day one of mapping, VNP mobilized a map-monitoring team, launched a daily blog, and has continued to advocate for best practices and procedures through public comment and earned media. Concurrently, we’ve maintained ongoing education and training support to individual groups and the public.
VNP launched a new blog
With the MICRC now meeting 30+ hours per week, the need for rapid, consistent reporting has become an emerging necessity. That’s why we launched a new daily blog to keep the media, stakeholders, and supporters informed with MICRC updates. There you will find a summary of each public mapping session with recording links. In order to ensure ample coverage, we’ve organized more than two dozen volunteers to work in shifts, covering every minute of the commission’s work. We are actively fundraising to add paid staff to shoulder some of the burden.
Proactive, rapid-response as process “referee”
As the pace of redistricting work continues to increase, VNP has strengthened our rapid response capacity to identify opportunities for process-based advocacy. Most recently, VNP identified the MICRC’s issuance of a Local Counsel RFP as an opportunity to provide a counter-balance to the MICRC’s controversial hiring of BakerHostetler as Litigation Counsel. Our outreach work has led to a state and national effort to solicit as many qualified bids as possible. Additionally, our team’s independent analysis of the commission’s mapping procedures and schedule led to a discovery that the MICRC had not planned enough time for mapping the Metro Detroit area. In partnership with coalition groups, non-partisan advocates worked together to mobilize a widespread response, resulting in a reallocation of time by the commission to map Michigan’s most diverse and populous region.
Events – RSVP for our next partnered webinar
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán of Bridge Michigan will moderate a panel that includes Moon Duchin of Tufts University’s MGGG Redistricting Lab, who designed the Commission’s public input portal, Bob Chunn of Next Vote which helps communities draw maps, and Hayg Oshagan who directs New Michigan Media, a network of ethnic and minority media. The Executive Director of the MICRC, Sue Hammersmith, will also speak about public input and the mapping process.
The webinar will include an analysis of the testimony the Commission has received from citizens and Communities of Interest about their mapping preferences, a discussion of the timeline for creating final maps, and useful tips for the public and Communities of Interest as they prepare to offer comments to the Commission about the new district maps this fall. The Commission currently plans to begin the second and final round of public hearings in early October.
This is the third webinar in a series sponsored by the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and Voters Not Politicians (VNP), along with Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR).