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A Commissioner’s Guide to Redistricting in Michigan

February 4th, 2019, 12:00pm by Sam Wang

Today we’re releasing a detailed report on Michigan’s new Independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission!

In November, Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to their state constitution to remove the power of the state legislature to draw legislative and Congressional district boundaries. The vote was a victory for those seeking to end gerrymandering, but it’s the only the beginning of a process.

The Princeton Gerrymandering Project has been helping master’s of public policy students at the Woodrow Wilson School to prepare a report highlighting best practices in forming the commission and in executing its constitutional duties. The report is titled A Commissioner’s Guide to Redistricting in Michigan. You can read it here, or download a PDF.

Among our major findings:

  • By establishing explicit guidelines and hiring bipartisan or nonpartisan staff, the Commission will build trust in a new political institution.
  • Example maps show that a wide range of partisan outcomes is possible. An evenhanded approach is necessary to ensure partisan fairness.
  • The criteria enumerated in the new constitutional amendment should ensure representation of communities of interest and avoid bias against political parties.
  • Data-based tools for visualizing communities of interest will maximize the impact of public input.

The students worked hard to combine law, policy, and quantitative analysis in order to eliminate a bug in democracy. This is a high-quality report, and I’m proud of them – as well as the staff of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.

In a few weeks, we’ll travel to Michigan to present our findings to Voters Not Politicians. Nancy Wang, president of Voters Not Politicians, emailed us: “These recommendations will help Michigan’s first Citizen Commission hit the ground running.” We can’t wait to tell her in person!

Incidentally, the students were great. Policy workshops at the Woodrow Wilson School are a chance for second-year students to apply their talents for clients around the world. Students in this class included former NGO workers, U.S. and Australian Treasury officials, and a state government budget official.

Tags: Princeton · Redistricting

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