The end of December doesn't just mark our transition into the New Year... In 2021 it will also mark an important decision for our state's future voting districts: the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will be deciding on which maps to approve for our U.S. Congressional, State Senate, and State House seats.
Redistricting only happens once every ten years. And, on top of that, the process is completely new this time around. That means, despite how important redistricting is, it can be difficult to understand.
We want to make it easy for everyone to #ShowUpSpeakUp for the maps they think best support their Communities of Interest and the constitutional criteria, so we created a guide with all the information you need to weigh in: tinyurl.com/redistrictMIguide It includes:
What is redistricting? An overview of what voting districts are and what redistricting means.
Why should I care? Information about this historic change and why supporting our community to weigh in is a part of our mission.
What have I missed? A summary that will catch you up on everything that's happened so far.
What now? You decide! A table with links to the map options, short descriptions of the Lansing area, and highlights of other areas.
Tell the commission! Options on how to give your feedback to the Commissioners.
Share this guide! Social media links to spread this resource.
Additional Resources ... and even more resources you can look into!
Are you curious what we think about the maps? Keep reading!
Though we aren't experts, below we've tried to share our thoughts on the options that currently exist. This is with the understanding that it may be very unlikely that the Commissioners make any edits to these maps or produce any new drafts, given the time restraints at this point (remember, the Census was delayed which set back the Commission in receiving the data it must have to do its job).
U.S. Congressional Maps
Throughout the collaborative maps, the tri-county (Clinton/Eaton/Ingham) community is largely kept together. Even with small changes, the district that includes this community is very similar across metrics such as population deviation, partisan fairness, and more. We did notice that on the individual maps, however, Lange’s does not keep the region whole, and Szetela’s stretches pretty far across from west to east, joining communities with fewer shared interests.
For this reason, we suggest choosing from the collaborative maps. And, because the Lansing region is mapped so similarly across each of them, the actual choice will depend more on communities outside of the area. The maps all perform very similarly across metrics on partisan fairness, and they all have two districts with higher than 40% Black Voting Age Population (BVAP).
If we had to pick one, we like Chestnut best because the population deviations are lowest. We also appreciate the configuration on the west side of the state, where Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Benton Harbor are kept together, rather than in Birch where they are split apart.
State Senate Maps
The way Metro Lansing is mapped is very close to identical in each map, so again, we have to look at statewide data and other regions to make a decision.
All collaborative maps have four districts with higher than 40% BVAP. However, we also see that Kellom’s individual map is better on population deviation, has better partisan fairness scores (Palm has the lowest of all the collaborative), and also increases the BVAP in several Detroit districts, resulting in three at or very close to 50%, and one more above 40%.
We think these critical edits by Kellom take into account Black Detroiters’ concerns throughout public comments during Public Hearing Round 2 and present a different way of stewarding the Voting Rights Act.
For that reason, and because the rest of the state is mapped identically to Palm, we hope the Commission will consider Kellom’s map. We know that individual maps are not eligible unless the rest of the maps fail to meet the criteria satisfactorily. We suggest either that, if possible, the Commission votes to give this map collaborative status at a meeting ahead of the Dec. 30 vote, or agree to approve this map and fail the other collaborative options.
State House Maps
The Lansing area is mapped exactly the same across all options, which means the choice will also come down to the way other areas have been mapped.
We want to highlight that the collaborative maps all have 13 districts with a BVAP higher than 40%. However, Pine V5 only has three with greater than 50%, while Magnolia and Hickory both have seven.
While we understand the Commission wanted to unpack Detroit voters in accordance with the Voting Rights Act, we think the edits of Magnolia or Hickory will do a better job of ensuring that Detroiters are able to elect Black representatives. With that and some further edits to try and get closer to partisan fairness, we tend to prefer Hickory.
Make sure you tell the Commission YOUR opinions ahead of their scheduled vote on December 30, 2021. Visit our guide to learn more: tinyurl.com/redistrictMIguide