Michigan earned good grade nationally for transparent and inclusive process
LANSING, MI — Today, Common Cause, the leading anti-gerrymandering group, published a report grading the redistricting process in all 50 states from the view of the community. The comprehensive report evaluates public access, outreach, and education in each state based on an analysis of more than 120 detailed surveys and more than 60 interviews.
Michigan earned a B. The report found that after Michigan’s passage of a 2018 ballot initiative for a Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC), in which the mapmaking process is now conducted in the open by decision makers who do not have a personal stake in the outcome. The commission prioritized countless public hearings and worked to make sure there was improved partisan fairness. However, the commission’s move to unpack Black voters from districts to rectify previous wrongs may have diminished their voting power. Most notably, congressional districts drawn in the Detroit area took away major influence from Black voters.
“After a close look at all 50 states, this report shows more community voices produce better maps,” said Dan Vicuña, Common Cause national redistricting director. “When everyone can meaningfully participate and have their input reflected in the final maps, that’s how we achieve fair elections voters can trust. We found voting districts that prioritize community interests are the gateway to elections that lead to strong schools, a fair economy, and affordable healthcare.”
Common Cause graded each state for its state level redistricting. Some states received a second grade for their local redistricting process in cases where advocates provided data. Each interview and survey asked participants about the accessibility of the process, the role of community groups, the organizing landscape, and the use of communities of interest criteria.
“Redistricting is only successful when people have influence over their voting districts instead of politicians,” said Quentin Turner, executive director of Common Cause Michigan. “We have seen tremendous improvement in Michigan, as the people finally have a say in how their maps are drawn without the impact of special interests. We knew there would be a learning curve, but Michigan continues to be a leader in democracy in the country. We intend to work to improve this process. This wouldn’t have happened without Michiganders, and we look forward to continuing a redistricting process where the public is engaged and has strong relationships with the MICRC.”
Common Cause found the most powerful reform is independent, citizen-led commissions where voters—rather than elected officials—administer the process and hold the power of the pen to draw maps. Independent commissioners were found to be more interested in fair representation and community input— rather than electability or party control.
The report was authored by Common Cause, Fair Count, State Voices, and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
The report was published in collaboration with the Coalition Hub for Advancing Redistricting and Grassroots Engagement (CHARGE), which includes Common Cause, Fair Count, League of Women Voters, Mia Familia Vota, NAACP, NCAI, State Voices, APIAVote, and the Center for Popular Democracy.
To view the report online, click here.