Michigan Redistribution Panel: ‘Show Yourself, Speak’ on Cards | Michigan News

By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press

LANSING, Michigan (AP) – Members of the Michigan Redistribution Commission are urging residents to speak out on proposed congressional and legislative maps.

The first of five public hearings will take place in Detroit on Wednesday. The panel is seeking feedback on 10 maps it has collaboratively drawn as well as several others that have been submitted by individual commissioners.

“Introduce yourself, speak. We need the contribution of our citizens. It’s a citizen process to draw fair maps, ”said MC Rothhorn, one of the four Democrats on the committee, which also includes four Republicans and five members who are not affiliated with any of the major parties.

The voter-created panel is responsible for the decade-long post-censal redistribution process instead of the legislature, which controlled the drawing of the cards for the past two decades and has been criticized for partisan gerrymandering. Courts previously oversaw redistribution after a pre-allocation commission stalled and was subsequently declared invalid.

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Public meetings are also scheduled for Thursday in Lansing, Friday in Grand Rapids, Monday in Gaylord and October 26 in Flint. People will have 90 seconds to speak, in person or virtually.

The commissioners said they were willing to make changes to the projects, including wholesale. They must take into account criteria such as keeping “communities of interest” together and ensuring that the cards do not disproportionately favor a political party.

“We certainly don’t take the position that these cards are made by any stretch of the imagination. So if there are major changes to be made, then I think we are ready and willing to make them, ”said President Rebecca Szetela, non-affiliated member.

The projects would be fairer to Democrats on a partisan basis than the maps drawn by GOP lawmakers in 2011. But the African-American community in Detroit is rallying in opposition for fear that it will be more difficult to elect black legislators.

There would be no black-majority districts, as they do now, based on the legal advice the commission has received as it tries to unravel the past “package” of African-American voters. There would be about 20 majority minority legislative seats and two minority majority congressional seats when Hispanics, Asians and other minorities are taken into account.

The commissioners said they were waiting for data on voter turnout to help assess concerns that black candidates might not win. The committee plans to vote on the maps on November 5 and, after a 45-day comment period, to adopt the final maps by the end of December.

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