This week we saw a lot of progress in a fairly short time from the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission!
Commissioners worked together to produce several sets of reconfigured maps. The commission has also put forward maps produced by MSU’s IPPSR and the Promote the Vote coalition for analysis and comment, as Voters Not Politicians advocated for in our organized public comment campaign.
There’s broad agreement that more Detroit voices are needed to weigh in on the new maps. The commission and many organizations, including Voters Not Politicians, are working to encourage more Detroiters to make their voices heard, especially during the public comment period that starts February 2nd.
We will not take our eyes off the redraw process, but our other critical work continues! In today’s update, we focus on our work to recruit nonpartisan poll challengers who will protect voters from disenfranchisement in the 2024 statewide elections.
- This week the commission has 17 sets of collaborative draft House district maps available for comment by the public. You can view and comment on each map at the “State House” tab here. On Thursday, the commission voted to advance 14 of these maps for VRA analysis. Voters Not Politicians will provide more information to our volunteers, supporters, and partners next week when the public comment period officially begins.
- The draft maps submitted by Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) were suggested by Commissioner Lett for consideration. These maps have been posted under the name “Trillium.” The IPPSR maps have good partisan fairness scores and only modify three districts beyond those voided by the Court.
- The Promote the Vote coalition, which includes nonpartisan groups such as NAACP and the League of Women Voters, also submitted draft maps, suggested by Commissioner Szetela. These maps have been posted under either “Promote the Vote” or “Peony” and are also available for public comment. The PTV maps do even better on partisan fairness than the IPPSR maps.
- Commissioner Eid also drafted and published a draft map, Daisy v1, which only redraws the court-ordered districts. This shows commissioners have heard the recommendations from VNP volunteers and others to correct the voided maps without affecting the surrounding districts.
- On Tuesday, Dr. Lisa Handley gave a refresher course on partisan fairness metrics to new and current commissioners. VNP is concerned that commissioners are not considering all four measures of partisan fairness, as Dr. Handley recommended. Commissioners tend to be focused on the seats-votes ratio, which is easy to understand, but it overstates Democratic voters’ power because of the datasets being used.
- In response to criticisms that the commission has not done enough to inform and engage Detroiters in the redraw and low public comment numbers, MICRC Executive Director Edward Woods III and commissioners Rhonda Lange and Brittni Kellom hosted a MICRC Virtual Town Hall meeting Thursday, Jan. 25 to receive more input. Our unofficial sources tell us more than 100 people attended.
- Voters Not Politicians has also launched a digital ad campaign to reach voters in affected districts, inform them about the redraw, and engage them in the redraw process. This includes providing a grassroots digital toolkit and opportunities for public comment.
- Voters Not Politicians is continuing to monitor MICRC meetings and organizing volunteers to provide public comment to the MICRC, reminding the commission to follow all of the constitutionally required criteria including partisan fairness.
- Voters Not Politicians Education Fund (Voters Ed Fund) has launched a large-scale recruitment and training project to recruit and shift nonpartisan election Poll Challengers in partnership with Promote the Vote/the Election Protection Program for the 2024 statewide elections.
- Nonpartisan poll challengers act as voter advocates at early vote centers and polling locations and make sure voters are not intentionally or unintentionally disenfranchised.
- Voters Ed Fund is leveraging its network of grassroots volunteers across 26 municipalities in Michigan to ensure oversight of early voting locations, pretabulation locations, and election day polling places for Michigan’s election administrators and poll workers.
- Target communities include Ann Arbor, Benton Harbor, Dearborn, Detroit, East Lansing, Eastpointe, Flint, Flint Township, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck, Inkster, Jackson, Lansing, Livonia, Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Port Huron, Redford Township, River Rouge, Royal Oak, Saginaw, Southfield, Sterling Heights, Warren, and Westland.
- Voters Not Politicians staff will be responsible for recruiting, shifting, preparing, and tracking volunteers to fulfill 150 non-partisan Poll Challenger shifts for the February Presidential Primary. We are also recruiting shift leaders in every target municipality.
Keep in Mind
- As the redraw process approaches the public comment phase, it’s important to remember that the best remedial maps will give historically marginalized communities the ability to elect candidates of their choice, keep communities of interest together, and preserve or improve partisan fairness, while affecting the minimum number of districts necessary.
- Over 80% of Detroit voters supported this process that puts redistricting in the hands of voters because they were tired of self-interested politicians drawing lines to their own benefit, at the expense of voters. Detroiters want maps drawn using a transparent, independent, and fair process.
- Every eligible voter in Michigan has a constitutional right to vote. Nonpartisan poll challengers play an essential role in advocating for voters and keeping Michigan’s elections safe, free, and fair.
Voters Not Politicians is continuing our digital ad outreach to make sure Detroiters and Metro Detroiters in affected districts are informed and involved 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.
We are also still recruiting volunteers from the affected districts to provide public comment at the remaining MICRC meetings. If you live in an affected district and would like to add your voice to this process, email VNP’s Director of Democracy Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, Voters Not Politicians will continue to monitor the situation and keep everyone informed and engaged with this process. You can also subscribe for updates from the commission at michigan.gov/micrc.
Voters Ed Fund’s Nonpartisan Poll Challenger project will continue recruiting voter advocates for the February Presidential Primary, as well as ramping up later this year to recruit even more volunteer advocates for the August Primary and November General Election, where we expect record turnout across Michigan. If you’re interested in learning more about volunteering as a nonpartisan poll challenger, you can sign up for more information or support our recruiting efforts.
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