Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, congressional and legislative lines must be redrawn to accurately reflect their population. Redrawing district lines for political offices will be the first task of the state’s voter-approved independent redistricting commission, which is taking over the process from the Michigan Legislature following the 2018 passage of Proposal 2 which makes citizens responsible for redistricting.
Prior to redistricting, 200 semifinalists must be whittled down to the 13-person panel made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five independents.
Listen: Who will make up the state’s redistricting commission?
Craig Mauger covers state government and politics for the Detroit News and has been following the redistricting commission selection process. “This is a really transparent process,” says Mauger of the commission selection. He adds that anyone can go on the Secretary of State website and read about the 200 candidates up for the redistricting commission.
A point of contention in the selection process has been accurately identifying applicants’ political affiliations. Mauger says It’s up to the applicants themselves to self-identify their party affiliation as Republican, Democratic, or “unaffiliated.” This variance in political party self-identification and candidates ending up in the group of semi-finalists who actually don’t wish to serve on the commission has created a gray area in the selection process. “We found a number of people who either didn’t want to serve or who had some questionable political contributions compared to what they identified their political affiliation as,” says Mauger. A safeguard for the process, Mauger says, is that legislative leaders get to reject 20 of these current nominees.