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Mixed reactions to Michigan’s new legislative district maps are coming in from around the state

Michigan's new congressional district map was approved by the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission.
Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
Michigan's new congressional district map was approved by the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission.

This is the first redistricting process since voters approved a constitutional amendment that gave the job of map drawing to an independent commission instead of the state legislature.

Pandemic-related delays and some controversial decisions have led to complaints about the group’s work.

Nancy Wang is executive director of the group Voters Not Politicians, which spearheaded the new process.

“There are definitely going to be lawsuits. We saw that in other states,” she said.

“But we’ve also seen that no maps that have ever been adopted by a citizens commission have ever been overturned by the courts, and that’s of course the complete opposite of legislatively drawn maps,” Wang said.

Among some groups’ concerns was the analysis used to ensure compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act.

State senator Adam Hollier, a Detroit Democrat, said there were several flaws with that analysis.

“They’ve decreased the opportunity to elect Black candidates, and there’s no justification for them to do that because their analysis doesn’t consider—at all—primaries, which is where every Black member of the legislature is elected,” Hollier said.

Consultants advising the commission have said inconclusive primary data makes it hard to use when conducting analysis.

Hollier also referenced a report from consultant Lisa Handley – who was hired to advise the panel – that mistakenly lists senate Black Caucus chair Marshall Bullock (D-Detroit) as being white.

“Anybody who’s googled Senator Bullock knows he’s Black,” Hollier said. “They’re making conclusions based on this idea that he’s white and he’s able to get elected by a majority of Black people as the candidate of their choosing. That analysis is wrong.”

Hollier said his focus going forward is ensuring Democrats take control over the state Senate now that the new maps score higher on the commission’s partisan fairness measure than old ones. But he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of becoming involved in a lawsuit against the adopted maps.

Meanwhile, the Michigan GOP is also weighing its options.

“We are evaluating all options to take steps necessary to defend the voices silenced by this commission,” MIGOP communications director Gustavo Portela said in a written statement.