An independent commission in Michigan has drafted new legislative maps that will push back against gerrymandering and give Democrats a fairer chance in elections — but some advocates say that the redrawn maps will also dilute the voting power of majority-Black districts in the state.
Michigan has been divided over the decades but dominated politically by Republicans in the state legislature. one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Despite Democratic Party candidates winning numerous statewide electionsSince the mid-1980s the state Senate has been controlled by the Republican Party Since 1984.
In 2018, for example, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) won re-election with more than 52 percent of the vote — but Republicans still retained control of the state Senate, winning nearly 58 percent of seats that were up for grabsThat year. This is a form of crossover voting in which voters vote for candidates from opposing political parties in separate elections. It is possible but unlikely.
However, because of the redrawn maps designed by a nonpartisan commission, state Senate races will be much more competitive going forward — and according to an analysis from The New York Times, Democrats in Michigan now have a “fighting chance” to win control of the Senate for the first time in nearly four decades.
Michigan Republicans have been able to maintain control of at least one chamber in the state’s legislature for so long because the party has been in charge of redrawing legislative maps every 10 years. But 2018 is a new year. a citizen-driven ballot initiative passedThis required a nonpartisan commission to redraw maps moving forward, and not the party in power. More than 61% of voters supported the initiative that year.
The commission is required to haveThere are four Republicans and four Democrats on the panel. The five remaining members must be members from a third party or have no affiliation. A map must be approved by the commission by at least seven of its members, which includes two Republican members and two Democratic ones.
Many voting rights advocates applauded the redrawn maps as making elections more competitive. The maps show that “Michiganders can come together across party lines to defend democracy — an important lesson for our nation and a reason to celebrate,” read a statement from Voters Not Politicians, the group behind the 2018 ballot initiative.
“Michigan’s a jump ball, and this is a jump-ball map,” said Michael Li, a Brennan Center for Justice senior counsel who specializes on redistricting issues. “There’s a lot of competition in this map, which is what you would expect in a state like Michigan.”
But others noted that majority-Black districts in the state — specifically districts in the Detroit area — would see their voting power diluted under the redrawn maps.
In an op-ed for The Detroit News, Democratic state Sen. Adam Hollier, who represents a district in the city, noted that “the commission’s recently submitted maps miss the mark” by going “from 17 majority-Black districts to zero for state House, state Senate and congressional districts.”
Interview with the The New York Times, Hollier suggested that maps produced by the nonpartisan commission were biased against his constituents as well as voters in neighboring districts.
“The goal of creating partisan fairness cannot so negatively impact Black communities as to erase us from the space,” he said.