Today is the court-ordered deadline for the MICRC (Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission) to submit their final draft maps for public comment. Yesterday, the commission worked hard to improve VRA compliance in three existing maps and voted to move nine collaborative maps forward for public comment. Unfortunately, they did not move forward the maps produced by IPPSR (MSU’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research) or Promote the Vote, or the commission’s edited versions of those.
We were pleased by the diligence and collaboration among the commissioners as they defied the naysayers to meet the court-imposed deadline. We believe there are maps among those submitted that can meet the constitutional criteria, perhaps with minor revisions (which are possible during the last week of February), and we will share our thoughts next week after careful review.
In the meantime, we will continue our digital ad campaign which has already reached over 170,000 Detroit residents to engage them in the process that will shape their districts for the rest of this decade.
And Voters Not Politicians Education Fund (Voters Ed Fund) is continuing to prepare for upcoming statewide elections by bringing up-to-date voting information directly to voters in historically marginalized communities through the Voter Access Town Hall series. Keep reading for details about our event in Flint last Tuesday.
- Earlier this week, the commission’s Voting Rights Act (VRA) counsel advised that three of the fifteen maps submitted last week were safely VRA compliant, based on the number of “opportunity districts” in the metro Detroit area. “Opportunity districts” were defined as districts where African-American voters can elect their candidate of choice in primary elections.
- Of the maps at that time, four were considered the most VRA compliant with 11 opportunity districts: Daisy 2, the Promote the Vote (PTV) Unity map, and the commission-edited versions of the PTV map named Peony 1 and Peony 2.
- However, the commission’s VRA counsel and litigation counsel warned that because the PTV (Peony) and IPPSR (Trillium) maps were submitted by outside groups, they could not guarantee that those groups drew maps in a race-blind way. Because of this, the commission decided to move forward only with the maps that they drew collaboratively, leaving them with Daisy 2 as the only “compliant” map.
- To address this situation, the commission’s VRA and litigation counsels advised the commission to use the racial data regarding voter turnout during the primary elections to make “narrowly tailored” tweaks, relying on their mapping experts for recommendations, to increase the number of opportunity districts.
- On Thursday, the commission voted to move 9 collaborative maps and one individual commissioner’s map forward for public comment:
- The original versions of Daisy II, Spirit of Detroit, Bergamot I, Bergamot II_Lakeshore, Tulip, and Water Lily.
- Motown Sound (formerly “Motown Sound 2”, revised on 2/1)
- Willow (an edited version of “Water Lily D”, revised on 2/1)
- Riverwalk (an edited version of “Spirit of Detroit”, revised on 2/1)
- Szetela (submitted by Commissioner Rebecca Szetela)
- Note: The commission decided to pass forward some of their collaborative maps for public comment without making changes to improve VRA compliance.
- It’s critical that the MICRC submits fair, legal maps to the court by March 1, after considering all public comment. Voters Not Politicians is working with partners and experts to review these maps against all of the constitutional criteria, and will pass along our opinions next week.
- As of this writing, the portal for the public to comment directly on each of the proposed maps has not been fully prepared. The commission is setting up a new 2024 redistricting process hub on the MICRC website. For now, you can find zip files of each of the proposed maps and the data on the MICRC website under “2024 Draft Proposed Maps.”
Flint Voter Access Town Hall
- Voters Ed Fund hosted its first Flint Voter Access Town Hall on Tuesday, January 30th. This was the fourth stop in the My City Votes 2024 Town Hall series.
- Voters Ed Fund launched the Voter Access Town Hall Series as part of the ramp up to our My City Votes 2024 campaign. These community events bring voter education to the residents of communities that have been historically marginalized in our democracy.
- The Flint Voter Access Town Hall brought together 34 community leaders to hear about Flint civic engagement, expansions to Michigan’s voting laws, and expectations for the 2024 election cycles.
- My City Votes partnered with the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council and Concerned Pastors for Social Action to make this event possible. Speakers included the Flint City Clerk, a Flint pastor, and the Director of the North Flint Neighborhood Action Council.
Keep in Mind
- The commission does not have to trade off constitutional criteria with these new maps. The final maps that are approved must comply with the Voting Rights Act and do no worse on partisan fairness than the Hickory plan, which was already skewed toward one party.
- The voter-approved constitutional amendment that created the citizens redistricting commission also specifies that the commission is the only body that can approve electoral maps for Michigan voters. Defaulting to a special master would be sending our democracy several steps backwards.
- Even with a few bumps in the road, Michigan’s fair, transparent redistricting system is still worlds better than what we used to have, and what most states have: maps drawn in secret, by and for politicians.
- This redraw offers an opportunity to strengthen the process, and that’s what’s happening now. The transparency that’s central to the amendment allows all of us to witness and participate in every step, and the commission, pro-democracy organizations like ours, and the public are all learning from it.
- As communities are preparing for multiple statewide elections this year, it’s important that voters are kept informed about changes that favor voters. Partnering with local officials, community groups, and trusted stakeholders will help make sure every eligible Michigander is able to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Now that the commission has officially chosen maps for public comment, it’s more important than ever to connect with residents in affected districts so that they can make their voices heard during this public comment period. Voters Not Politicians recently launched the second phase of our digital ad campaign to make sure Detroiters and Metro Detroiters are accurately informed and effectively engaged in the redraw process. You can support this work by donating to the redraw fund or by sharing the sign-up link: vnp.vote/detroit-redraw.
Voters Not Politicians staff and volunteers are also putting in long hours to monitor the commission’s work and keep everyone informed and engaged with the process, down to the details. You can also subscribe for updates from the commission at michigan.gov/micrc.
Voters Ed Fund will continue preparing for upcoming elections and building partnerships and voter engagement in My City Votes communities with the next Voter Access Town Hall in Pontiac, presented with our friends at Oakland Forward.
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