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Plaintiffs in redistricting lawsuit want special master appointed to redraw maps

Former state representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo speaks at a podium with a sign for Black Leadership Matters.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Former Democratic State Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo has led the effort to redraw the districts

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging Michigan’s legislative maps want a special master appointed to help redraw 13 Metro Detroit state House and Senate districts.
A federal court ruled the maps violated the federal Voting Rights Act because race was predominant in the way they were drawn, and they unconstitutionally diluted Black voting power.
The districts were drawn by Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission before the 2022 election. The commission was created to replace the largely partisan process that redistricting backers said produced highly gerrymandered legislative districts for decades.
In the 2022 election, the commission-redrawn legislative maps led to Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate for the first time in decades. The new legislative maps were criticized by Republicans and Black Democrats, both of whom complained they unfairly undermined their candidates. In the case of the Black Democrats, the U.S. District Court agreed.
In the unanimous opinion handed down by the three-judge panel, the court found:
“When a minority group is large and compact enough to elect its preferred candidates, as black voters obviously are in Detroit — those voters cannot be broken up and 'submerged in a larger white voting population' that usually defeats the minority group’s preferred candidates.”
Former Democratic State Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo has led the effort to redraw the districts. She’s hopeful a special master with a background in mapmaking and southeast Michigan will help guide the process.

“We’re hopeful that those collective voices will be a part of the process,” said Gay-Dagnogo.
Attorney Jennifer Green represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
She said a special master could play an important role in getting the new maps drawn, since the fledgling redistricting commission is currently in a bit of disarray.
Next week, the Secretary of State’s office will select three new members of the commission to replace commissioners who recently resigned.
“The current belief is that the commission could definitely benefit from a special master who is a professional and experienced mapmaker,” said Green.
The plaintiffs are expected to propose several potential special masters with backgrounds in mapmaking and southeast Michigan in court filings next week.
A court hearing on redrawing the maps is scheduled for next week.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting. During his two and a half decades in broadcasting, Steve has won numerous awards, including accolades from the Associated Press and Radio and Television News Directors Association. Away from the broadcast booth, Steve is an avid reader and movie fanatic. Q&A
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