redistricting

crowd at high school
Kevin Lavery / WKAR-MSU

In the 2016 election, Michigan House Republicans edged out Democrats by just 3,000 votes.  Yet, the GOP won more than 57 percent of all state House seats.  Their victory was the result of creative map making.

 

State legislative districts are drawn by whichever political party is in power.  Both Democrats and Republicans tend to draw those boundaries to consolidate their voting base.  The practice is called “gerrymandering,” and opponents say it diminishes the voice of the people.


map of Michigan
Courtesy / U.S. Dept. of Interior

In 2021, Michigan will re-draw its congressional and state legislative boundaries.  The law says each of these geographic tracts of land must contain as equal a number of people as possible.  This mandate creates a jigsaw puzzle of irregular shapes across the political map.

For decades, political parties have “gerrymandered” these borders to their own advantage.  Technically, it’s illegal for a single party to group its voting base in a specific area, but the practice can be hard to prove.   Now, grassroots support is building to place redistricting back in the hands of the people.

 


Jocelyn Benson photo
Courtesy Wayne State University

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can appoint independent commissions to draw legislative and congressional boundaries. Current State speaks with Jocelyn Benson, Dean of the Wayne State University law school and a former candidate for Michigan Secretary of State.


markschauer.com

In last November’s elections for the Michigan House of Representatives,  49-percent of voters chose a Republican to represent them. Nonetheless, a headcount reveals that House Republicans comfortably outnumber Democrats, 63-47. The reason is the way legislative districts are drawn.

A fight that pits Democrats in Oakland County against Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Rick Snyder is now before state Supreme Court.