By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press
LANSING, Michigan (AP) – The Michigan Carving Commission on Monday voted by an overwhelming majority to advance proposed maps of the State Congress and Senate to the final stage of the process, approving lines that would be more fair to Democrats than those plotted by Republican lawmakers over the past two decades.
This was the first time the panel had submitted plans for a closing 45-day public comment period. It was not clear whether the commissioners could also bring forward alternative proposals to the US Senate and House later in the week or stand still. They were faced with a Friday deadline for submitting cards, with votes on final cards expected in late December.
The commission was created by voters in 2018 to manage the ten-year process of drawing the boundaries of Congress and legislation instead of the partisan legislature.
The panel used a composite of the last 13 statewide races to show Democrats won 52% of the vote while Republicans got 48%. Democrats could have a 20-18 advantage in the Senate in such a scenario.
Due to the 2011 gerrymandering, Republicans secured a 22-16 majority after the 2018 election despite Democrat Gretchen Whitmer winning the governorship by almost 10 percentage points.
âIt’s a good card. I think it’s a great card actually, âsaid Commissioner Anthony Eid, one of five members who are not affiliated with any of the major parties. âIt supports communities of interest. It takes care of all the considerations (federal voting rights law) that we looked at. â¦ The composite scores of 10 years of electoral history show that this is a fair card on accepted measures of partisan fairness. “
Michigan loses a seat in the United States House, leaving it with 13.
According to three maps proposed by Congress, there could be 7-6 divisions in favor of either party if they are competitive statewide. The final boroughs will result in a reorganization of the delegation. Many incumbents could compete in the primaries or run in another district to avoid this.
The congressional and legislative maps appear likely to be challenged in court in part because of opposition from Detroit’s black community. Minority voters are required to have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.
Michigan would no longer have African-American majority ridings after the panel ruled that black voters could represent more than 40% but less than half of the voting age population and still elect minority candidates.
Commissioner Brittni Kellom, a black Democrat from Detroit, on Monday evening began proposing a fourth congressional map that would make changes to two districts in and around the city in response to public comment, but she faced a first opposition from other panel members.
âIt’s overwhelming, and people are watching and listening,â Kellom said, crying. âI am passionate about it. I watch you all spin your wheels online for other things, and that’s important. “
But President Rebecca Szetela, an unaffiliated commissioner, asked if the alternative would be an improvement.
âI don’t see the rationale because I don’t really see these two areas as being much better. This is what I fight with. I’m not trying to silence you, âshe said.
The committee planned to continue its deliberations on Tuesday, including on the State House districts and potentially on the fourth congressional map.
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