Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission could end the Republican Party’s years of dominating the state’s legislature thanks to gerrymandered maps, Bridge Michigan reports.
The new independent redistricting commission, which was created by a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018, advanced three draft maps to the hearing stage that would significantly roll back the GOP’s gerrymandered advantage.
One map would give Democrats a slight edge, another would split the state House in half, and a third would leave Republicans with a two-seat edge, down from their 58-52 majority.
The maps were approved by the 13-member citizen commission and will head to public hearings.
The hearings will run through the end of the month before the commission will meet again in November after hearing public feedback.
The committee will put those maps to a public comment period before voting on the final maps at the end of December.
Senate could swing too:
The commissions’ state Senate maps could undo the Republican advantage in that chamber as well.
Republicans currently hold a 22-16 majority but one proposed map would split the chamber evenly between the two parties. Two other proposed maps would give Democrats a two-seat majority.
Republicans stand to lose a member of Congress as well. The state’s 14 US House seats are split 7-7 but the state is losing a seat because its population declined. All four proposed congressional district maps would give Democrats a 7-6 majority.
Advocates push to reduce GOP geographic advantage:
Republicans have an inherent advantage in redistricting because their voters tend to live in rural and sparsely populated areas while urban and highly concentrated areas tend to lean Democratic.
The new maps would still favor Republicans despite cutting into their gerrymandered majority but advocates hope to push the commission to adopt maps that score as close to zero one-party advantage as possible.
"The closer you get to zero, the more fair the maps are, and I think you should try to make them as fair as possible," Sue Smith, the vice president of advocacy for the League of Women Voters of Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press.
Voting rights advocates called for the commission to listen to voting rights groups during the public hearings.
"If they’re not listening to comments being made during the second round of the hearings and up until the second round of maps is approved, then they’re not doing their job,” said Yvonne White, president for the Michigan NAACP.