In 2018, Michiganders voted for independent citizens to be in charge of drawing the state’s congressional district map instead of politicians. The newly introduced Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will be the first-ever citizen-led commission drawing Michigan’s congressional districts in state history.
“We truly are a body that believes we want to have as much influence as possible … to get maps reflective of what we’ve heard.” —Brittni Kellom, MICRC Chairperson
Members of the commission have been going around the state getting input from different communities on what they’d like to see reflected in Michigan’s district map. A Detroit MICRC public hearing will be held at the TCF Center from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17.
Listen: How Michiganders will help determine the congressional maps.
Brittni Kellom is the MICRC chairperson. She says the commission is working to promote transparency and fair representation in the redistricting process. “All of our meetings are livestreamed. Everything we do is pretty much in the public eye, and for good reason.” The commission does work with political experts, but Kellom says it’s independent citizens that determine the maps. “The consultants have influence in terms of they come with the expertise and the years of experience to actually get the job done. But in terms of how it gets done … that part is up to us.”
Going around the state to hear from Michigan citizens has made the commission cognizant of what actually goes into mapping, Kellom says. “We truly are a body that believes we want to have as much influence as possible … to get maps reflective of what we’ve heard.” Kellom says the commission aims to fairly represent communities who’ve historically been left out of redistricting decisions. “The [Voting Rights Act] is something that is definitely ingrained in our thought process. We want to make sure we are not re-victimizing those folks who have been disenfranchised.”
Edward Woods III is the communications and outreach director for the MICRC. Woods serves the commission but isn’t on it. He says instead of politicians, it’s Michigan citizens who will determine how districts are drawn. “When you think of government for the people by the people, before the commission can draw the lines, they need to hear from citizens.” Everything the commission does is open and transparent, which Woods says is groundbreaking. “This is just an exciting time to be a part of democracy, to be a part of change.”