LANSING–Voters Not Politicians, the grassroots, nonpartisan group that led the successful 2018 campaign to end partisan gerrymandering in Michigan, today celebrated the first meetings of the 13 voters who will serve on the state’s first Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
“This is a historic day for Michigan,” said Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians. “Millions of Michigan voters took the extraordinary step of amending our state Constitution to make our redistricting process fair, impartial, and transparent. We are excited to meet the 13 citizen commissioners who have been tasked with bringing this vision to fruition.”
The process of selecting the 13 commissioners included an open application period, as well as applicants who received one of 250,000 applications mailed by the Secretary of State encouraging eligible voters to apply to serve on the commission. Applicants with an inherent conflict of interest – lobbyists, partisan politicians, and their staff and immediate family members – were disqualified from serving on the commission. A random selection process that included limited legislative strikes to the semi-finalist pool resulted in the final selection of the 13 commissioners meeting today – four Republicans, four Democrats, and five voters who do not affiliate with either party.
“One of the cornerstones of the redistricting reform amendment is keeping communities of interest intact, so the commission will be embarking on a public process to hear from communities that share economic, ethnic, cultural, or other interests to inform their decision-making about how district lines should be drawn,” said Wang. “Our volunteers are already hard at work to ensure that Michiganders across the state are empowered to participate in the public hearing process. We’re developing a tool to help the public map their community boundaries so they can submit proposed maps, along with effective testimony, to the commission. That’s what voter-led redistricting is about — for the people to have a say in how our election district maps are drawn through a transparent, accountable process.”
The Governor and Legislature are required to approve a budget for the commission for FY 2021 by December 1, and the commission must hold at least 15 public meetings to gather public input before they approve the state’s next set of legislative and Congressional district maps. The commission must adopt final maps by November 1, 2021. A major factor in the commissions’ work will be the federal government’s release of the 2020 U.S. Census data, which is expected in July 2021. A full timeline of the redistricting process as laid out in the constitution can be found here.
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.