The following can be attributed to Nancy Wang, Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians, on the appeal filed on Thursday, November 12 by Tony Daunt of the Michigan Freedom Fund of the District Court’s final order of dismissal of the Daunt, et al v. Benson lawsuit:
“Two years ago, Michiganders voted by an overwhelming margin to end gerrymandering and put redistricting in the hands of voters — not politicians. One year ago, applications opened to Michigan voters who wanted to serve on the voter-approved Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. An astounding 9,367 voters applied to serve. The 13 members of the Commission were randomly selected and have been holding public meetings since September as a part of their work to redraw our state’s next set of election district maps. The voter-approved process is playing out as intended. And yet, Tony Daunt and his co-plaintiffs still refuse to accept the people’s will — which is enshrined in the state Constitution — driven by their desire to return to the rejected practice of having politicians pick their voters through gerrymandering. Voters Not Politicians’ thousands of volunteers who led the fight to end gerrymandering will continue to fight against Daunt’s meritless attacks against our Constitution, while at the same time we will empower communities to make themselves heard in the new redistricting process.”
Opponents of fair redistricting in Michigan are appealing District Court Judge Janet Neff’s July 6, 2020, order disposing of their claims in the Daunt, et al v. Benson lawsuit. The appeal would be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, despite the fact that the District Court decision now being challenged was based on the same issues of law and reasoning of a prior decision of the Sixth Circuit in this same lawsuit.
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 this summer — four Republicans, four Democrats, and five voters who do not affiliate with either party.
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.
Contact: Hannah Lupi
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.