Chelsea Community Forum Summary for April 10, 2021

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From Chelsea Community Forum Moderator Vince Elie:

Chelsea Community Forum Summary for April 10, 2021

The Chelsea Community Forum met, via Zoom, on the 10th of April. Approximately 18 people participated, including our guest. Dr. Vicki Paulissen, a Chemistry professor at EMU and a member of the League of Women Voters. She led a discussion regarding Michigan’s redistricting plan. Michigan Proposal 18-2 was a ballot initiative approved by 62 percent of Michigan voters in 2018. The proposal was created in preparation of the 2020 United States Census, to move control of redistricting from the state legislature to an independent citizens’ commission. The Redistricting Commission is charged with redrawing 110 Michigan House and 38 Michigan Senate districts, and Michigan’s 14 congressional districts. The Redistricting Commission assumes that Michigan’s congressional districts will decrease from 14 to 13 as the result of population loss. The commission will use the data from 2020 census to determine Michigan’s US Congressional districts.

The commission is composed of 4 Republicans, 5 Independents, and 4 Democrats. These commissioners were randomly chosen from 200 individuals after being winnowed down from 200,000 applications. The demographic composition is based upon age, sex, geography, and racial background.

Dr. Paulissen discussed the concept of Communities of Interest which includes important criteria that the Commission must consider in deciding how to draw the district lines. There are 7 criteria, listed by significance, that guide the commission’s direction and decision-making process. Those criteria are listed below, in order of importance, but are unweighted:

1) Each district must be equal in population, follow Federal and State voting laws, and the Voter Rights Act of 1965.

2) The districts should be geographically contiguous.

3) To reflect Communities of Interest and the diverse citizens/population of Michigan. A Community of Interest is a contiguous population, with common bonds and whose shared interests will be impacted by legislation. The goal is to amplify the community’s voice. These communities can present written and/or oral testimony during a public session (approximately 2 minutes) that defines the bonds that link them as a Community of Interest. Examples of these bonds may include; ethnic/cultural/socioeconomic ties, tribal nations, school districts, natural resources, agricultural interests, or other interests. There are also bonds that cannot be used to define a Community of Interest; including any relationship to any political party or political candidate, and race (because inclusion of this entity violates the Voter Rights Act of 1965).

4) There should be no disproportionate advantage to any candidate or incumbent member of the Michigan State House, Michigan State Senate, or the US House.

5) The redrawn boundaries must not favor a candidate or incumbent.

6) The new boundaries should consider and reflect city, county, and township boundaries.

7) The new districts must be geographically and reasonably compact in shape and size.

The commission began its work in the Fall of 2020, via Zoom, and allows for live-streamed and in-person public meetings. There have been/will be 17 such meetings. Additionally, Proposition 2 mandated that 10 public hearings must occur prior to any map development and 5 public hearings must happen after the maps have been drawn.

The commission has used the redistricting experiences of Arizona, California, and Ohio to guide Michigan’s work. The Michigan commission has also hired attorneys to assist with the designation of Communities of Interest and other legal/technical aspects of this process.

Dr. Paulissen offered additional websites for further information:

· University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP): http://closup.umich.edu/

· Michigan Redistricting Commission: www.michigan.gov/micrc

· League of Women Voters: https://www.lwvmi.org

The next Chelsea Community Forum is scheduled for May 8th at 9 AM. The Chelsea Community Forum is open to all with an interest in the affairs of the Chelsea School District area and meets the 2nd Saturday of every month at 9:00 AM, currently on Zoom. A link can be found on the Forum’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/chelseamiforum/home

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