Michigan’s independent redistricting commission is seeking more time to redraw the state’s political maps, citing expected delays in the release of the 2020 Census data.
Final maps need to be adopted by November 1, but the commission needs to allow for a 45 day public comment period, which means the map needs to be drawn by September 17. But Census data is supposed to be released to the redistricting commission on September 30, which is not enough time to utilize the data on the redistricted map. The Census data release has already been delayed twice.
Sue Hammersmith is the executive director of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. She said the commission is looking to hear from communities across the state regarding what groups should be kept together in districts before they draw the first line.
“This is really a citizen’s driven process and we want to make sure that people give their input, especially around the area of communities of interest,” Hammersmith said. “So if there's a cultural or historical or economic group that doesn't want to be divided up into different districts, they need to come forward and tell us. This is really important to us. And we want to make sure when the maps are drawn that our community of interest is included in those maps as a whole unit that can vote together on what we feel is important to us.”
The Constitution requires that the commission hold ten public hearings before any maps are drawn. Hammersmith said the commission will meet the minimum criteria and will do their best to go above and beyond to receive input from the public.
“We want people to engage in public hearings throughout the state and for people to engage in any kind of public comment that can go to our website. They can go to they can come to a commission meeting and provide public comment,” Hammersmith said.
The commission is now waiting to see if the Supreme Court will grant an extension to their deadline. Other than this roadblock, Hammersmith feels the commission will be able uphold their Constitutional duty to create a fair and impartial district map of the state.
“I don't believe that's been any issue among the members, again, they understand that their goal is to create nonpartisan maps. And I see that expressed by everybody, no matter which party they're from or whether they're an independent. They're committed to the task ahead of them,” Hammersmith said. “And I don't see them veering from committing to the task of drawing nonpartisan, fair maps for Michigan.”
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan