Facilitating Fair and Transparent Redistricting

The Secretary of State’s Role: Facilitating Fair and Transparent Redistricting


The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is all about transparency. A 2015 study ranked Michigan dead last of all states in America when it comes to transparency laws. When we can’t oversee what our politicians are doing, or how much it’s costing us, the state is vulnerable to corruption.


This isn’t speculation: Michigan scored an F on Corruption Risk Report Card from the State Integrity Investigation. To protect our state’s integrity, we want a transparent redistricting process all the way down to the process of picking the commissioners and publicly disclosing the variables used by the computer software that commissioners will use to draw maps.


We want to put voters in charge of making sure our voices are heard and that our elected officials represent cohesive districts that hold them accountable to their constituents. The process will be facilitated by – not influenced by – the Secretary of State. Here’s how.   


In our policy to end gerrymandering in Michigan, the office of the Secretary of State will oversee the appointment of a new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) once every decade. The ICRC itself will redraw, or redistrict, our voting maps based on the census info that comes out every ten years.


Now that our policy language has been approved by the state Board of Canvassers and is available to the public, some have asked, “Doesn’t that give the office of the elected, partisan Secretary of State too much power? Why let a political office run this process if you’re trying to get our voting maps out of the hands of politicians?”


These are good questions. Our legal team had to ask similar questions: “Which office would be appropriate to assist in facilitating our mission of putting the people in power, instead of party members or political institutions?” Like the Michigan Constitution states, “All power is inherent in the people.”


The Secretary of State is already Michigan’s chief election officer in an administrative capacity. In our policy, the redistricting process will be facilitated by the Secretary of State’s office but its employees will not play any role whatsoever in the Commission’s decision making. This is similar to how courtroom personnel facilitate administrative tasks but aren’t involved in jury discussions. The role of the Secretary of State is only administrative; it will have no power to influence the map drawing process.


For example, the Secretary of State’s office will provide forms that registered Michigan voters are required to fill out when they apply to serve on the commission. Once a decade they’ll stamp the envelopes that invite ten thousand Michiganders - who are selected at random and must be contacted according to a strict deadline - to apply for one of thirteen spots on the commission. Those invitees are in addition to any other qualifying registered Michigan voter who applies.


The selection administered by the SOS must be random to ensure fairness and to preserve the integrity of the redistricting process. We’ve designed the process to select the final 13 commissioners at random from a pool of qualified applicants in a process that’s transparent from start to finish.  


The language in our policy also says the Secretary of State will “furnish, under direction of the commission, all technical services that the commission deems necessary.” This means that the Secretary of State staff are in charge of supplying the commission with resources like conference rooms and projectors for meetings.


Secretary of State employees will not be involved in the actual map drawing process, similar to how the judge can’t interfere once the jury is deliberating. The Secretary of State’s role is purely administrative.


Our voting districts shouldn’t be influenced by politicians from any one or two parties – or state staff. A commission that reflects Michigan voters’ diversity will provide checks and balances to our voting districts. A process that’s clear, public, and transparent will keep the process honest.


It’s time to end gerrymandering in Michigan and we need your help. Here’s how:


Save the Date // save the date and vote YES for an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in the November 6 2018 election!


Donate // the politicians and special interests who benefit from the current system will spend millions defending and protecting their unfair advantage. We have to fight back, and that will include advertising and putting together hundreds of local events across Michigan to educate voters on their rights. Donate to Voters Not Politicians here.


Volunteer // we are recruiting volunteers to spread the word in 2018 to help us end gerrymandering in Michigan! If you are interested in being a part of this vital part of the process, please click here.


Stay educated // learn more about gerrymandering and how you can defeat it! Stay up to date on campaign updates and news by signing up for our newsletter here.


Connect // follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

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  • Suzanne Tiemstra
    What if all of the people who are chosen to be on the commission are from the same party? Would it not be better to have a set number from the two main parties and some independents?

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