A grassroots group is hoping to improve the process of drawing district lines for Michigan’s state Legislature and Congressional seats by severing it from anyone with political influence. Voters Not Politicians is aiming to amend the state Constitution with a ballot petition that would put in place an 13-member commission every 10 years to redraw the lines of state House, state Senate and Congressional districts that reflect changes in population based on U.S. Census data. Currently, the redistricting process in Michigan is conducted by the state Legislature, which has been majority Republican in recent redistricting years. A nationwide analysis of 2016 election data by the Associated Press found battleground states such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia — all of which had their districts drawn by Republican-led legislatures — had significant Republican advantages in state House and Congressional races.
The proposed language would shift that decisionmaking process to the 13-member commission, which would consist of five independent members, four self-declared Democrats and four self-declared Republicans. Elected officials, candidates, lobbyists and political consultants or staffers — as well as family members of politicians or other insiders — would be barred from participating within six years of their politically-affiliated position.
The commissioners would be selected randomly from a pool of registered voters who submitted applications to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State would be required to circulate commissioner applications to 10,000 registered Michigan voters at random from various regions of the state.