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Redistricting Commission adopts final maps

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
The congressional map, called "Chestnut," adopted by the MICRC.

The group tasked with drawing the Michigan’s legislative districts for the next decade has finished its mapping work.

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission adopted its Chestnut Congressional, Linden state Senate, and Hickory state House plans.

During a press conference Tuesday evening, commission chair Rebecca Szetela (I) said timing was a major issue for the commission.

“I think there certainly was the possibility of creating different maps if we had more time, but unfortunately, we had to make good not be the enemy of perfect,” she said.

Earlier in the day, Szetela joined commissioners Brittni Kellom (D), Rhonda Lange (R) and Erin Wagner (R) in voting against a motion that would have prevented the group from considering new maps.

Doing so would have triggered a new 45-day public comment period and left the commission likely unable to vote on final maps until March.

At the press conference, Kellom suggested the commission could have done more to address community concerns from majority-Black Detroit if it had time to further process information it was receiving.

“Even now we just kind of finished synthesizing the math part—the data part. But I think the whole engagement, which was the other part of this process of the community needed its own attention,” Kellom said.

During debate over the state Senate maps, Lange also expressed discontent with the commission’s choices.

“I feel northern Michigan was given the short end of the stick in this process,” she said.

This is the first-time in state history an independent citizen-led group handled the redistricting process. It used to happen in the legislature, but that process resulted in politically skewed maps.

A 2018 amendment to the state constitution that created the commission required it conduct its business in the open, leading to thousands of online comments across its map proposals.

To pass, each map required at least a 2-2-2 split of support between Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. During the meeting, the selected maps seemingly had the required amount of support to begin with.

Commissioner Douglas Clark (R) explained his Congressional map vote as being dependent on public feedback.

“I felt it had more swing districts—that, depending who the candidates are, it could go either Republican or Democrat. And that was one of the things we heard from the public a lot,” Clark said.

The commission also heard extensive presentation on Voting Rights Act analysis to ensure their adopted maps pass federal muster. Several groups have complained about the commission’s interpretation of federal voting laws.

The maps will likely face legal challenge.

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