Up until now partisan politicians have been able to draw maps behind closed doors in ways that have disproportionately advantaged whichever party happened to control the state legislature. This time, the process has – by and large – played out in real time in the open.
“This is what many have called an ‘experiment in democracy.’” — Sergio Martínez-Beltrán, Bridge Michigan
What’s more, there has been significant time and space for public input along the way. But the process hasn’t been without its controversy as there are now attempts to challenge these maps in court.
Listen: How Michigan’s new legislative and congressional maps came into being.
Sergio Martínez-Beltrán covers the state Capitol for Bridge Michigan. He says average Michigan residents have learned more about the state’s political apparatus and its localities in order to create fairer, nonpartisan political maps. “This is what many have called an ‘experiment in democracy,’” says Martínez-Beltrán.
While some Black residents in southeast Michigan are concerned with not being represented, Martínez-Beltrán says the independent redistricting commission still believes the current maps are much fairer than their previous iteration when the process was controlled by representatives. Martínez-Beltrán says the new maps will make many districts more competitive. “I think, without a doubt … we’re going to see some of the most extensive races in the history of the state in the next few months,” he says.
Clara Hendrickson is a Report for America Corps Member with the Detroit Free Press and PolitiFact. She says the map-drawing process was transparent, as hours-long meetings were livestreamed for public viewing. “From the very outset here in Michigan you’ve had the public weighing in on what the lines should be,” she says.
As no elections have yet been held in the new districts, Hendrickson says she’s hesitant to make new predictions about who may lose a seat in the next round of elections.