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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Application Process Starts For State Redistricting Commission

Cheyna Roth
Secretary of State, Jocelyn Benson

The online application process for the state’s new Independent Redistricting Commission is now open.

People can now apply to be on the 13-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the launch of the online application process Thursday.

Last November, the voters approved the new Independent Redistricting Commission. It will draw the state’s political district lines starting after the 2020 election.

“I’m thrilled to see this idea that was of, by, and for the people really take flight,” said Voters Not Politicians Executive Director, Nancy Wang. That’s the group that was behind the ballot measure.

The commission will be made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and five Independents. They’ll be chosen in stages. First a random drawing will narrow the pool down to 200. Then the leaders in both parties of the House and Senate each get to strike up to five applicants. Then, the final 13 will be chosen from that pool, again, by random selection.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said her office will launch a commercial and use other methods to get the word out to people to apply.

“Really my goal is not just quantity, but also representation throughout the state,” she told reporters. “Making sure that citizens in every corner of the state, from the Upper Peninsula to Hillsdale, to Grand Rapids to Detroit feel that they want to apply and be a part of this.”

There are ongoing lawsuits challenging the legality of the commission, but Benson said she’s not concerned.

“Because I believe that we’re solid in our legal grounding, and I believe that our responsibility is to further the will of the people,” she said. “That was very clear when they spoke last November to amend their constitution.”

Benson says the state will also mail tens of thousands of applications to voters inviting them to apply for the commission. The deadline to apply is June 1st of next year. Members will be chosen by fall of 2020.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County.
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