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issues - redistricTing matters

The League of Women Voters supports an Independent Commission as a solution to the problems with Michigan's current redistricting process. LWVMI is aware that other groups are thinking about a ballot proposal campaign. At this time, the League has not endorsed a ballot proposal or joined a coalition to do so. The LWVMI Board will evaluate the possibility of joining a ballot campaign based on the proposal and the probability of the campaign's success.

Michigan's political districts are redrawn every decade following receipt of the new Census data This process typically takes place behind closed doors, with districts designed to benefit the political party in power at the time.

The Michigan Legislature is responsible for drawing the state's Congressional and State legislative districts and the Governor has veto authority over the adopted plan. Redistricting also takes place at the local level for county commissions and city councils and other governmental bodies that are elected by ward or district.


The way district lines are drawn can keep our communities together or split them apart. Although the Legislature is bound by some legal standards, they can also establish and prioritize criteria for drawing districts. In addition to legal criteria, information about voters' political leanings is used to project which party the district is likely to support. This allows for partisan gerrymandering – drawing lines to cluster voters according to whether they are likely to vote Democratic or Republican – with the goal of securing seats in Congress or the Legislature.

Redistricting is an inherently political process. But the lack of citizen involvement and the self-interest of those conducting the process are a risky combination. It allows representatives to choose their voters rather than the other way around.

The League of Women Voters of Michigan is a partner in the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative, a coalition of groups that believe redistricting must be more transparent and open, with opportunities for the public to be informed and involved.

REDISTRICTING TOWN HALL MEETINGS:  fALL, 2015
The League of Women Voters of Michigan hosted over 30 Town Halls across the state of Michigan in the fall of 2015 to educate voters on the importance of redistricting. The events were free and open to the public. All are welcome.

Click here to view the power point of the Town Hall presentation that explores how legislative lines are drawn in Michigan, who draws them, and why it is a critically important question for those who care about fair representation.  Click here to view a video of one of the Town Hall meetings.  This particular meeting was held in Oakland County on November 3, 2015 and features Linda Hoff, Advocacy Vice President for the League of Women Voters of Michigan, as the presenter. 

The press release issued by the League was covered by the Detroit Free Press and the Traverse City Record Eagle. Why redistricting is impotant was also covered by MLive. 

A follow up article on Redistricting and the Legaue's involvement appeared March 14, 2016 in the Detroit Free Press. 


US SUPREME COURT DECISION:  JUNE, 2015

The recent Supreme Court decision that confirmed the constitutionality of an independent redistricting commission sent a clear message that these commissions are tools for voters to make their voices heard.  The current system of redistricting, the process by which new congressional and state legislative district lines are drawn, lets elected officials do so to their liking and to the advantage of their political party. It also increases the power of wealthy special interests so that they are able to further rig the system to their own selfish benefit. This effectively, but disingenuously, ignores the will of the majority of voters who believe in compromise and the ability to work together to build a better Michigan for everyone. Read and listen to the recent news stories concerning this positive development in the redistricting arena:

 

 

LWVMI'S REDISTRICTING POSITION

REDISTRICTING FOR THE STATE LEGISLATURE AND  THE U.S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

Statement of Position adopted 2012

 

The League of Women Voters of Michigan (LWVMI) supports the formation of an independent redistricting commission in lieu of the legislature as the primary redistricting body.  Such a commission should afford equal representation to the major parties and provide for independent and diverse representation.  This commission should be established through legislation and/or a constitutional amendment. 

 

The LWVMI reaffirms its support for the LWVUS goals of transparency and citizen partnership in the redistricting process.  To implement these goals the following procedures should be used:

 

  • Meetings of the redistricting body should be subject to the Open Meetings Act.

  • Proposed maps should be published in a timely manner, in print, online and on television with an explanation of the rationale involved.

  • A period of at least 30 days following publication of the proposed maps should be allowed for public review and comment.

  • Public hearings should be held at different locations throughout the state.

  • Census data and relevant census software should be made available online.

 

The list is open ended.  Technological and other improvements should be employed as they become available. 

 

The LWVMI supports population as the primary criterion for redistricting.  Other factors of importance are contiguity, maintaining political and geographical boundaries and minority representation.  Additional factors to be considered are communities of interest, competitiveness and compactness.  There should be no preferential treatment for any party and no protection of incumbents.  Redistricting should take place only once a decade following the decennial census.

 

Redistricting Resources

Media Materials

Educational Resources


contacts

For more information about redistricting, contact: the League of Women Voters of Michigan, 517-484-5383.