No, not the maps that may be redrawn for the 2020 election if things don’t go well for Michigan Republicans in a federal district court this month.
Rather, the new maps that will be drawn up for Michigan’s Congressional and legislative districts by a new independent commission following the U.S. 2020 Census. These new maps would go into effect for the 2022 election and extend over the next decade.
In the Nov. 6, 2018, general election, voters in Michigan overwhelmingly approved an amendment to their state constitution to remove the power of the state legislature to draw Legislative and Congressional district boundaries. The vote was a victory for those seeking to end gerrymandering, but it’s only the beginning of a process.
The Michigan Information & Research Service (MIRS) newsletter interviewed students at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, as well as the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, who argued that Michigan’s new redistricting commission “should draw their lines in public with an eye toward ‘fairness in the process,’ not just the outcome.”
“Focus on what the map does — not how it looks,” the Princeton report reads. “Remember that a nice-looking map is not necessarily the best map. Use good visualization to see how communities of interest and political boundaries fit into the process.”
The students researched the best ways for the future redistricting commissioners to carry out their duties. The major findings included, according to a press release earlier this week:
– Hiring bipartisan or nonpartisan staff to build trust with the public
– Draw example maps that show that a wide range of partisan outcomes is possible. An evenhanded approach is necessary to ensure partisan fairness.
– Representation of communities of interest is stressed. Avoid bias against political parties.
– Ignore how the lines will impact the incumbent serving in that district, whether it strengthens or weakens re-election chances.
“Establishment of a citizen commission can play a large role in re-establishing trust in government,” said Professor Sam WANG, director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. “The students and my research group worked hard to combine law, policy, and quantitative analysis in order to eliminate a bug in democracy. This is a high-quality report, and I hope it will help Michiganders draw maps to represent their many communities and avoid pitfalls along the way.”
Nancy Wang, president of Voters Not Politicians (VNP), the organization that masterminded and carried out the successful Ballot Proposal 2 last year, said of the Princeton students’ project: “We appreciate the time and thought the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Professor Wang, and the entire team put into this valuable resource.We are committed to making sure that the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission succeeds in drawing maps in a fair, impartial and transparent way. These recommendations will help Michigan’s first Citizen Commission hit the ground running.”
Second-year Master in Public Affairs students at the Woodrow Wilson School apply their talents in policy workshops for clients around the world. Students in this class include former NGO workers, U.S. and Australian Treasury officials, and a state government budget official.