People will have a chance to engage Michigan’s new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in the coming weeks. The commission, which is drafting new maps for the state’s congressional districts as well as the Michigan House and Senate, will hold a series of public hearings on Zoom and across the state from now until early July.
The 16 public hearings will start Tuesday, May 11 in Jackson and end July 1 in Grand Rapids. All meetings are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Meetings in Dearborn, Novi, Pontiac and Detroit are slated from June 3-17.
|Thursday, June 3|
|Suburban Collection Showplace, Novi|
|Thursday, June 10||Centerpoint Marriott, Pontiac|
|The Village Dome at Fellowship Chapel, Detroit|
|Thursday, June 17||TCF Center, Detroit|
“The purpose of the public hearings is to listen. To listen to the people who have comments about what their communities of interest are and where they would like the lines to be drawn for their district,” says Suann Hammersmith, executive director of the commission. She says data for the 2020 Census will not be available until August but residents can get engaged now.
Outreach director Edward Woods III says residents can submit public comment and maps through the state’s website.
“Not just for their congressional, Senate or House but also for their community of interest,” Woods says.
Local organizations like the NAACP are reaching out to people who may be unaware of this new mechanism of democracy.
“Many of these immigrant communities come from places where the fact that voting is a foreign concept,” says Hassan Jaber, president and CEO of the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS).
The commission offers Arabic, Spanish and sign-language interpretation at its meetings and hearings.
Susan Smith is vice president of the League of Women Voters in Michigan. She says groups like hers are helping people participate.
“Anyone who would like some assistance in either submitting their testimony or giving it at the public hearing, please reach out to your local League,” Smith says.