With the Republican Legislature poised to redraw Michigan congressional districts to maximize their advantage in the state’s Capitol Hill delegation, the nonpartisan Citizens Research Council of Michigan has issued a report advising the adoption of constitutional procedures to direct the decennial redrawing of congressional and legislative districts.
“Michigan’s current redistricting process is fundamentally flawed,” said CRC President Jeff Guilfoyle in a release accompanying the report. “Giving legislators a free hand to draw the districts that will determine from which constituents they must gain support undermines the democratic process.”
Due to the results of the 2010 census, Michigan loses one of its 15 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Legislature must draw a map with 14 U.S. House seats. A report in the Detroit News last week detailed a potential map that would throw Democratic Congressmen Sander Levin and Gary Peters into one district and bolster Republican prospects to confidently capture nine of the 14 slots, beginning with the 2012 elections.
The Legislature also must reset election lines for the 110 seats in the Michigan House and the 38 seats in the Michigan Senate.
After looking over redistricting processes in other states, the CRC report stated, “While no approach is ideal, entrusting redistricting responsibilities to the legislature, the same entity that is the chief beneficiary of the process, fosters a process that seems to many to be inappropriate.”
Among the changes recommended by CRC is an increase in transparency for the public to monitor the map-making process. Such transparency is a key goal of the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative, an amalgam of public interest groups from around the state, including the Center for Michigan.
In February, the Center released its own report on the map-making process in Michigan, noting that the highly partisan process had left many voters in uncompetitive districts dominated by one of the two major political parties. “Only about one out of every seven Michigan residents lives in a swing district – politically competitive areas where elections are truly up for grabs,” the report stated.