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Hearing scheduled in Cass County apportionment case

A color map showing Cass County's commissioner districts.
Cass County government
Cass County's 2021 apportionment map divides Dowagiac between two districts.

A panel of judges will hear arguments in a lawsuit accusing the county's apportionment committee of partisan gerrymandering.

A Cass County man has accused the local apportionment board of redrawing county commission districts for partisan gain. Now the state Court of Appeals says it’ll hear arguments in the case April 13.

Voting rights activist James Pedersen brought the lawsuit. Pedersen, who’s also a Cassopolis village trustee, says the map drawn by the county’s mostly Republican apportionment board unlawfully splits up the City of Dowagiac.

“The largest city, largest group of minority voters and, I think no small matter, the largest group of Democrat votes in the county,” Pedersen said.

He alleges the board divided the city to dilute Dowagiac’s Democratic vote, getting rid of a competitive seat on the county commission.

“They insist they had no partisan leanings or considerations. I just really find that difficult to believe,” Pedersen said.

The apportionment committee has declined to comment on the case before there’s a ruling.