By Jessica Mathews /

Public input is being sought at upcoming hearings about Michigan’s ongoing redistricting process.

In 2018, voters passed Proposal 2 allowing voters, not legislators, to take over responsibility for non-partisan redistricting, and created the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. It’s comprised of 13 randomly selected Michigan residents - four Democrats, 4 Republicans, and five Independents. The Commission is responsible for redistricting the U.S. Congressional and Michigan House and Michigan Senate district boundaries.

The group has been doing various public presentations. Non-partisan Commission member Janice Vallette who resides in Highland Township delivered an update on the process during a virtual meeting in April to educate the Howell City Council. She told Council they’re working to inform the public but have been surprised to discover how many people aren’t even aware they’re doing this.

Vallette noted that before the Commission drafts any plan, it’s required to hold at least 10 public hearings throughout the state. She said they’re actually doing more than that and in May and June, they’ll be doing two per week all over the state to solicit information from the public about potential redistricting plans. Vallette said they want people to come forward at the public hearings to talk about communities of interest such as school districts, churches, Native Americans, or neighborhoods and how they would like to be represented in district planning.

Vallette noted they were supposed to have the maps drawn in September but the Census was delayed and that’s a big part of how they’ll redraw maps. Preliminary Census data that was released recently revealed that due to population decline, Michigan is expected to lose a seat in Congress - dropping from 14 to 13 seats. That would translate to the loss of one Electoral College vote in presidential elections.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the redistricting panel are asking the Michigan Supreme Court for more time to adopt the new congressional and legislative maps due to the delayed census data. The lawsuit seeks a January 25th - nearly three months later than the November 1st date set in the state constitution. Due to setbacks from the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau is not expected to release redistricting data until mid-to-late August and it might not be available in an easy-to-use format until September 30th.

Vallette said they want to increase awareness and engagement and people can send questions, ideas, and general public comments via email, regular mail, or by attending the meetings. Those interested can email or mail comments to MICRC P.O. Box 30318 in Lansing, 48909.

Vallette noted the Commission’s meetings are held virtually on Thursdays and a live stream is available on YouTube and their website, with meetings alternating between mornings and afternoons. A schedule is available on the Redistricting Commission’s website. That link is provided.