By Jon King /

The second of five public hearings on the latest drafts of Michigan's new voting district maps took place Thursday in Lansing, with another set tonight in Grand Rapids. The final maps will be used for the next decade of elections.

It is the first cycle with the state's new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and five Independents. One of the issues that have come up is that of so-called prison gerrymandering. Some states, like Maryland and Pennsylvania, have put policies in place to count people who are incarcerated as part of their home communities, rather than in the places they're imprisoned. Some Michiganders want the Commission to do the same, but so far, it has not.

Quentin Turner, program director for Common Cause Michigan, said there is still time to make changes if people make their concerns known, and said issues like gerrymandering are what an independent commission is meant for.

"It'll help with ending prison gerrymandering, it'll help with eliminating the gerrymandered districts we have right now in Michigan," Turner contended. "And those are a threat to equitable distribution of resources and a threat to the democracy that's the heartbeat of our country."

The two final hearings are planned for next week in Gaylord on Monday and then Tuesday in Flint. Residents interested in commenting can also do so on the Commission's website at

Public News Service contributed to this report.