The state is looking for people who want to help redraw Michigan's political lines. The Secretary of State's office is holding public forums on the new, independent Michigan Redistricting Commission. One of them will be in Kalamazoo on Thursday, November 14.
Michigan voters approved the commission in 2018. It will take over the job of reapportionment after each Census. That had been handled by state lawmakers. But critics said the current Republican majority used its power to gerrymander district lines in its favor. The new commission will have 13 members. Four of them will be Democrats, four Republicans, and five people not affiliated with a political party.
People who are elected officials, or have been in office recently, can't serve on the Redistricting Commission. Neither can their spouses or people who've worked actively on political campaigns or served as party precinct delegates.
Assistant Secretary of State Heaster Wheeler says a lot of people have already applied to be on the commission.
"More than 3,000 so far. We've just rolled this initiative out. It's been less than two weeks since we rolled this initiative out. That's a good thing. We expect several thousand more will likely apply. We want to remind Michigan citizens that you cannot be selected if you don't apply."
Wheeler says Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson expects at least 6,000 people to turn in applications. He says they will be narrowed to a list of 200 semi-finalists using an algorithm that will insure that the panel is diverse. That list will go to leaders of the state legislature who can remove a total of 20 names. The members of the Redistricting Commission will be selected randomly from the remaining 180 applicants.
The public information session on the commission starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 14, at the office of El Concilio Kalamazoo, 940 Lake Street. Applications for the commission will be available. You can also apply online.