The League of Women Voters supports an Independent Commission as a solution to the problems with Michigan's current redistricting process. We are pleased that Proposal 2 was passed by Michigan voters in the November, 2018 election. This constitutional amendment will establish an impartial commission of voters (not politicians) who will be charged with creating new district maps for state and congressional offices that cannot favor one party or candidate, following the 2020 census. This commission will operate in a completely transparent manner and will create maps based on fair criteria.
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.