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Michigan Civil Rights Commission Calls for Fair Maps, Opposes Minority Vote Dilution in Redistricting Process

LANSING, MI -- At their meeting on Monday, Nov. 22, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) passed a resolution calling on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) to ensure that the electoral maps they approve are fair and will not result in the dilution of the minority vote, citing specific provisions in the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"Michigan voters have entrusted the redistricting commission with making monumental decisions that will have a direct impact on the ability to cast a meaningful ballot and the opportunity for minority communities to vote for individuals who best represent their interests," said Stacie Clayton, Chair of the MCRC. "If an electoral map results in the dilution of the minority vote or infringes on a minority's right to elect the candidate of their choice, it does not meet the requirements of the law, the Michigan constitution, or the test of fairness."

The resolution spells out three measures that U.S. Supreme Court determined in Thornburg v. Gingles (1986) for evaluating whether or not an electoral map violates the rights of minority groups set forth in the Voting Rights Act:

  • A minority group must demonstrate it is large enough and compact enough to constitute a majority in an electoral district;
  • A minority group must demonstrate it is politically united;
  • A minority group must demonstrate the majority group historically votes sufficiently as a group to defeat the minority group's preferred candidate; coalitions of Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American, "Other," and those who identify with "two or more" racial groups have had the ability to come together and elect candidates of their choice.

Commissioners also cite the 15th Amendment to the Constitution which stipulates, "[t]he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color . . . Racial, ethnic and language minorities must be allowed to cast a meaningful ballot and not have their vote diluted . . ."

The Commission closes by urging the MICRC "to use statistical data to compare Michigan's 22 majority-minority districts (17 are predominantly Black) with the percentages in the nine (9) maps proposed on November 5, 2021 . . . to determine if they comply with the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Thornburg v. Gingles  . . ." and ". . . to take all necessary action to ensure that there is no minority vote dilution and/or violations of the Voting Rights Act in the nine (9) maps proposed by the MICRC."

"Federal law, Supreme Court precedent and the U.S. Constitution all are clear: protecting the rights of minorities in the electoral process is an imperative that cannot be set aside or disregarded," said Chair Clayton. "We urge the Commission to ensure the protections spelled out in law and precedent are preserved in the electoral maps they select."

To read the entire text of the resolution, click here.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission.

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