Workshop in Benton Harbor to recruit Michigan residents for new, independent redistricting commission

NOW: Workshop in Benton Harbor to recruit Michigan residents for new, independent redistricting commission

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A new, independent commission will help Michigan re-draw its political districts after the 2020 census. 

The state wants as many Michiganders as possible to apply, so it’s on a 10 city, statewide tour to get people to apply. 

On Wednesday that tour will its final stop in Benton Harbor. 

“We’re essentially putting the power back into the hands of the public to tell us what they’re communities really look like and how they should be represented,” said Michigan Department of State Director of Public Engagement Loida Tapia. 

In the November 2018 election voters amended the state constitution to make citizens, not legislators, responsible for drawing district lines. 

Michigan and California are currently the only states in the United States with this amendment. 

The hope is it cuts down on gerrymandering, creating more representative districts. 

When it convenes in fall 2020, four Republicans, four Democrats, and five people not affiliated with either major party will make up the 13-member Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission. 

“Last year, millions of Michiganders voted to give citizens the power to draw our legislative districts, and now it is time to apply to be one of those citizens,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said. “This is a first-of-its-kind opportunity for Michigan voters to draw fair and impartial electoral maps for our state. I hope every Michigander considers applying to participate.”

Wednesday’s workshop in Benton Harbor is free. Organizers say it’s a chance for people to ask the state additional questions. 

In order to apply, a person must be an eligible, registered voter not currently or within the last six years, an elected official or declared candidate for a partisan office, among other restrictions.  

Commission members will each earn approximately $40,000 as compensation for their service. 

The commission must enact district maps no later than Nov. 1, 2021, becoming law by Dec. 31, 2021 so they can take effect for the 2022 election cycle. 

The state says 5,789 people have submitted an application so far. They are open until June 1, 2020. 

“They have the opportunity to not only be on the commission but the opportunity to redraw the lines in their communities and districts and make sure it’s representative across the state both geographically and demographically,” said Tapia. 

Wednesday meeting is from 6-7:30 p.m. at Kinexus in Benton Harbor. 

Those interested but cannot attend are encouraged to visit

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