Politicians’ discomfort with redistricting a good sign

In a fair process, nobody gets everything they want.

That’s especially true when we’re talking about the process to redraw Michigan’s political district maps.

The fact that groups on both tips of the political spectrum appear prepared to sue over the recently-finalized redraw tells us the 13-member panel in charge of the process probably succeeded in its mission.

After months of iterations, and a legal battle over transparency problems, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission finalized its inaugural shaping of political boundaries for our state lawmakers and congressional districts. The randomly selected board (four Democrats, four Republicans and five independents) was tasked, by voter decree and state Constitutional amendment, with drawing maps free from the pervasive gerrymandering that prior processes allowed.

Remember in 2018 when voters overwhelmingly supported forming the special board to replace the previous process where the political party in power at the end of each decade was allowed to draw boundaries?

Yeah, we remember that, too.

We also recall how that old system effectively allowed politicians to select the voters they wanted in each district, effectively allowing them to count votes and guarantee themselves and their friends re-election.

That’s the prevailing mechanism in many other states, and could plainly be characterized as undemocratic.

Now, Michigan’s commission is commanded by statute to construct districts with roughly the same number of voters, grouping communities with common interests together and ensuring competitiveness.

The squirming and grumbling from politicians today seems indicative of a job well done.

Plenty of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle now find themselves outside the boundaries of their old stomping grounds.

Take for example state Reps. Jack O’Malley and John Roth – both represent parts of the Grand Traverse region, but the new maps moved a few lines and placed them both in the same district.

O’Malley and Roth already declared they won’t run against each other in the same district, instead,

Roth said he will move to across the line into a newly-created adjacent territory.

That’s the kind of shifting occurring statewide – a growing pain that won’t persist beyond this first year as we rip the proverbial gerrymandering bandaid off our state.

We take the relative lukewarm reception of our new maps by politicians as a good sign, a signal our state took an important step toward political subdivisions that make sense and serve voters.

Finally a move toward voters choosing their elected officials, not the other way around.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today