Monday, August 17, 2020

A group of randomly selected citizens was chosen to redraw Michigan's gerrymandered districts for 2022 election

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 4:56 PM

click to enlarge Wayne State University associate political science professor Kevin Deegan-Krause uses Legos to demonstrate gerrymandering. The zig-zag shape is Michigan's 14th Congressional District. - TOM PERKINS
  • Tom Perkins
  • Wayne State University associate political science professor Kevin Deegan-Krause uses Legos to demonstrate gerrymandering. The zig-zag shape is Michigan's 14th Congressional District.

On Monday, a commission of 13 Michiganders was randomly selected from a pool of 180 semifinalists, tasked with redrawing the state's oddly shaped electoral maps.

The maps were last drawn in 2010 by Republicans and have been cited as one of the nation's most egregious examples of "gerrymandering," or drawing electoral maps to give an unfair advantage to one party.

In 2018, Michigan voters approved Proposal 2, which sought to fix gerrymandering by creating the citizen-led redistricting commission.

The Secretary of State hired Saginaw-based accounting firm Rehmann LLC to randomly select four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents to make up the group.

According to a Detroit News analysis, only three of the 13 appeared to have made political contributions in the last 10 years, and only one appeared to have made a contribution to a candidate. One donated $100 to the Voters Not Politicians campaign, the grassroots initiative behind Proposal 2.

In a livestream video of the drawing, assistant secretary of state Heaster Wheeler praised the new group.

"This is truly a historic day for Michigan’s democracy," Wheeler said. "This commission of randomly selected citizens will fairly and transparently redraw our election districts."

State officials received more than 9,300 applications to join the commission. Next, the new group will redraw Michigan's state Senate, state House, and U.S. congressional districts, which will be used starting in 2022.

The members of the commission will work with the SOS office and will be paid $40,000 for their work on drawing Michigan's new maps. Their meetings will be open to the public and the maps will require a majority vote within the commission to proceed.

In 2011, Republicans were caught in emails openly gloating about gerrymandering. One email showed one GOP staffer allegedly bragging about cramming "Dem garbage" into four southeast Michigan congressional districts.

You can re-read our 2018 cover story about gerrymandering here.

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