Frequently Asked Questions

Map Michigan's Future

We hope the following FAQ will help answer your questions about the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Process. We will continue to update this page as more information becomes available. Have a question that isn't answered here? Please email Redistricting@Michigan.gov and our team will respond directly. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

JUMP TO:

The Basics -- The Commission -- Creating District Maps -- Application -- Random Selection -- Role of the Secretary


THE BASICS


Q: Can I apply to be a member of the citizens redistricting commission?

The application period to serve as commissioner has closed for the 2020-2021 redistricting cycle. You are welcome to view an archive of the application materials. You can stay updated on the process by signing up to receive updates or following us on social media @RedistrictingMI on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Q: What is the citizens redistricting commission?

In November 2018, Michigan voters amended the Constitution with Proposal 18-2 or the "Voters Not Politicians" ballot proposal, a constitutional amendment to "establish a commission of citizens with exclusive authority to adopt district boundaries for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress, every 10 years." Now, the Michigan constitution empowers an independent commission of citizens to draw district lines for the Michigan Legislature and Michigan's members of Congress for the 2022 election and beyond.

Q: Who serves on the citizens redistricting commission?

The constitutional amendment establishes a commission of 13 registered voters randomly selected through an application process. Of the 13 commissioners, four affiliate with the Democratic Party, four affiliate with the Republican Party, and five do not affiliate with either major political party.

View the inaugural Commissioner's names and applications.

Q: When did the citizens redistricting commission begin meeting?

The commission was convened September 17-18, 2020 and has continued meeting since then. You can sign up to receive meeting updates.  

Q: When will the district lines proposed by the citizens redistricting commission take effect?

The commission will use data from the 2020 federal decennial census and citizen input to determine district lines no later than November 1, 2021. These district plans will take effect prior to the 2022 primary and general elections.

Q: What is the citizens redistricting commission timeline?

You can read or print a detailed timeline of the new redistricting process here. 

Q: Where can I read the section of the Michigan constitution related to the independent citizens redistricting commission?

You can read this section of the Michigan constitution here

 


THE COMMISSION


Q: What if I don't want to be a commissioner or I wasn't randomly selected - can I still be involved?

Yes. Citizen involvement throughout the redistricting process is critical to ensuring it is independent and fair. If you were not selected to serve as a commissioner, you will still be able to submit maps to the Commission for consideration and otherwise advocate for your interests before the Commission. Please sign up to receive updates on how to stay involved or follow us on social media @RedistrictingMI on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Q: Who are the Commissioners?

The 13 randomly selected Commissioners are from communities across Michigan and a diverse array of backgrounds. You can view a copy of each Commissioner's "Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Application" at RedistrictingMichigan.org, under the heading "Meet the Commissioners."  

To learn more about how the Commission was formed, please visit the Random Selection and Application Phase archives.

Q: What are the specific tasks and responsibilities of a commissioner? Is there any prior experience, educational background or other qualification required?

Each Commissioner is expected to work with their twelve colleagues in good faith to engage citizen input and determine state legislative (state house and senate) and U.S. congressional districts for the entire state of Michigan. 

You can view materials from previous meetings of the Commission to see their work so far, or sign up for updates on future meetings. 

Commissioners do not need to have any prior knowledge or experience in drawing legislative districts. For more information on commissioner eligibility, you can view the application phase archived FAQ about the roles and responsibilities of commissioners, which was provided to the public during the application phase of the redistricting process.

Q: When does the Commission meet?

To view the Commission's 2021 meeting schedule, please visit the "Meeting Schedule" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org.

To view previous meetings of the Commission, please visit the "Meeting Material and Archive" section.

Q: Who are the Commission staff?

The Commission currently employs three staff members. 

  • Suann Hammersmith, Executive Director
  • Julianne Pastula, General Counsel
  • Edward Woods III, Communications and Outreach Director

Q: How can I stay updated on Commission activities?

You can stay updated on Commission activities, including notifications of upcoming meetings and events by subscribing to the email distribution list. Information on upcoming meetings and events will also be posted at RedistrictingMichigan.org and on social media @RedistrictingMI on Facebook,  Instagram.and Twitter.

All Commission meeting materials, including meeting notices, minutes and agendas, are made available in the Meeting Material and Archive section of this website.

Q: Where can I watch Commission meetings?

All Commission meetings are livestreamed and available for public viewing at YouTube.com/MichSoSOffice. Links to view the livestream are also posted on Redistricting Michigan social media pages, including twitter.com/RedistrictingMI and facebook.com/RedistrictingMI.  

Details on how to view or attend upcoming Commission meetings are contained within each public meeting notice document posted in the "Meeting Material and Archive" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org. Meeting notices are posted for each meeting at least 18 hours in advance of the event start time, in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. To stay updated on Commission activities and to receive meeting notices via email, please subscribe to the email distribution list..

To view replay recordings of past Commission meetings, please visit the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission YouTube Playlist.

Q: Where can I view Commission meeting materials?

All Commission meeting materials, including meeting notices, agendas, minutes and public comment submissions, are posted for public viewing in the "Meeting Material and Archive" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org.

Q: How can I contact the Commission?

To submit public comment to the Commission, please email Redistricting@Michigan.gov

Details on how to provide live or written public comment for a meeting are also contained within each public meeting notice document and posted in the "Meeting Material and Archive" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org at least 18 hours in advance of the meeting start time, in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. To stay updated on Commission activities and to receive meeting notices via email, please subscribe to the email distribution list.

Q: How do I know my written public comment was received by the Commission?

All written public comments submitted to the Commission are received and reviewed by Commissioners. 

All written public comments are compiled into a document that is publicly posted by the meeting date in the "Meeting Material and Archive" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org. To confirm your comment is received by the Commission, you are encouraged to review the posted written public comment documents. 

 


CREATING DISTRICT MAPS


Q: Why is the Commission using a mapping and line drawing consultant?

As the Chair of the Commission noted in their March 11 meeting, "Because redistricting and map drawing is a complex process that requires expertise in mapping software, it is common practice - including among citizen-led redistricting commissions -  that a map drawing expert be hired to aid in this process. This expert map drawing consultant will work for the Commission to perform the line drawing function at the express direction of the Commission. Michigan's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, in its authority, will instruct the line drawing consultant on how and where to draw the lines. The map drawing consultant will use their software to draw the maps and lines as the Commission instructs. While the line drawing consultant may draw on their redistricting expertise and experience to advise the Commission, all line drawing decisions are made by the Commission itself.  Each map drawing session will also occur during open public meetings, and the Commission will solicit public input throughout the process."

Q: When will the map drawing phase of the Commission occur?

The Michigan Constitution requires that the Commission shall adopt a redistricting plan (i.e. electoral district maps) not later than November 1, 2021. The Commission's current timeline anticipates map drawing will occur during the Spring of 2021 through the Fall of 2021. 

For further updates on Commission activities and to be notified of future Commission meetings and hearings, please subscribe to the email distribution list.

Q: What data will the Commission use to create the maps?

The commission will use data including the 2020 federal decennial census and citizen input to determine district lines.

Q: What criteria will the Commission use to create district maps?

The Michigan Constitution outlines the specific criteria the Commission must utilize when proposing and adopting a redistricting plan. The constitutional criteria are listed below in order of priority.

(a) Districts shall be of equal population as mandated by the United States constitution, and shall comply with the voting rights act and other federal laws.

(b) Districts shall be geographically contiguous. Island areas are considered to be contiguous by land to the county of which they are a part.

(c) Districts shall reflect the state's diverse population and communities of interest. Communities of interest may include, but shall not be limited to, populations that share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests. Communities of interest do not include relationships with political parties, incumbents, or political candidates.

(d) Districts shall not provide a disproportionate advantage to any political party. A disproportionate advantage to a political party shall be determined using accepted measures of partisan fairness.

(e) Districts shall not favor or disfavor an incumbent elected official or a candidate.

(f) Districts shall reflect consideration of county, city, and township boundaries.

(g) Districts shall be reasonably compact.

Q: What is a community of interest?

The Michigan Constitution provides the following guidance on communities of interest: 

"Communities of interest may include, but shall not be limited to, populations that share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests. Communities of interest do not include relationships with political parties, incumbents, or political candidates."

Q: How can I provide suggestions or feedback to the Commission?

The public has the right to address the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and the Commission welcomes the public's comments. Written public comment may be submitted to the Commission by emailing RedistrictingMichigan.org. Live public comment may be provided during any meeting or hearing of the Commission.

Details on how to provide live or written public comment for each meeting or hearing are contained within the public meeting notice for each event. Meeting notices are posted at least 18 hours in advance of the event (in accordance with the Open Meetings Act) and are housed in the "Meeting Material and Archive" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org.

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In addition to regular meetings, the Commission will host at least 15 public hearings throughout the state to solicit public input and feedback on redistricting plans. The dates, times and locations of these public hearings will be posted at RedistrictingMichigan.org as details are finalized. The Commission's meeting schedule is posted in the "Meeting Schedule" section of RedistrictingMichigan.org.

To stay updated on ways to engage with the Commission and on Commission activities, please subscribe to the email distribution list.

Q: How will the Commission inform the public about its redistricting plans?

Prior to proposing a redistricting plan, the Commission must hold at least 10 public hearings throughout the state for the purpose of informing the public about the redistricting process and for soliciting information from the public about potential plans. 

Once the Commission produces proposed redistricting plans for each type of district, the plans will be made available to the public for review and feedback. Additional public hearings (at least five) must then be held by the Commission for the purpose of soliciting feedback from the public. 

The dates, times and locations of statewide hearings held by the Commission will be posted at RedistrictingMichigan.org as details are finalized. To stay updated on Commission activities and to receive notifications of all meetings and hearings, please subscribe to the email distribution list

Q: Where can I view a map of Michigan's current electoral district lines?

2011 State Reapportionment Districts may be viewed at mcgi.state.mi.us/districtlocator/

Q: How will a final plan be selected by the Commission?

Before voting to adopt a redistricting plan, the commission must publicly post each plan (i.e. electoral district map) and provide at least 45 days for public comment on the proposal. 

In order to adopt a redistricting plan, the Michigan Constitution requires a majority vote of the Commission including at least two Commissioners who affiliate with each major party, and at least two Commissioners who do not affiliate with either major party. 

Q: When will the Commission's redistricting plan go into effect?

Redistricting plans adopted by the current Commission will go into effect no later than December 31, 2021, and will be in effect for the 2022 primary and general elections.

 

 


APPLICATION


 


Q: What was the penalty for lying on the application, especially in the eligibility or affiliation section? 

Lying on the application is a criminal offense, punishable under penalty of perjury. 

In addition, the applications of the 200 semi-finalists were made public in June 2020. You can read more about this and review the applications on our random selection page. The public, the press, and the Legislature all have access to read and review applications. The Constitution provides legislative leaders with the ability to review and remove up to 20 applicants from the semi-finalist pool for any reason. 

Q: Why was there a notary requirement on the application? 

The application must be notarized because the constitution states applicants must "attest under oath" to their qualifications and stated party affiliation [MI Constitution, Article IV, Section 6 2(A)(iii)]. The phrase "attest under oath" has long been understood and interpreted to mean that the oath must be administered by a notary (or clerk or judge). 

During the application phase of this process, Secretary of State made every effort to connect citizens with notary services, including offering notary services for free in all 131 branch offices, maintaining a list of over 1500 notaries in all 83 counties willing to perform the notary service for free, and facilitating remote notary services during the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.

Q: How did applicants determine whether they were eligible to serve on the commission?

The Michigan Constitution provides specific requirements for who is eligible to serve on the Commission. See Michigan Constitution, Article IV, Sec. 6 (1)b-d. The Department of State provided guidance on these eligibility criteria, which can be found here. Additionally, the Department of State held a voluntary period of public comment on the eligibility criteria and initial application draft, and you can view those comments in the application archive page.   

Q: What is the role of demographics in the random selection process? 

The constitution outlines a specific process for the random selection of the final 13 commissioners. The Secretary of State is constitutionally required to randomly select 200 semi-finalist applicants and "use accepted statistical weighting methods to ensure that the pools, as closely as possible, mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state" [MI Constitution, Article IV, Section 6 (2)(d)(ii)]. 

Consequently, the demographic questions on the application were required fields and necessary for fulfilling the constitutional requirements of the selection process. Using statewide data from the American Community Survey of the U.S. Census Bureau, Rehmann LLC, an independent accounting firm hired by the Secretary of State performed the random, statistically-weighted selection, utilized weighing methods so that the pool of 200 semi-finalists was representative of the state. To learn more, please view our random selection frequently asked questionsview the random selection of 200 semifinalist, which was livestreamed, or read a detailed account of the random selection process.

Q: What determines "affiliation"?

The Michigan Constitution does not define the term "affiliation."

The common meaning of the word "affiliation," as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is: "the state or relation of being closely associated with a particular person, group, party, company, etc."

The application includes an optional space for applicants to provide more information in their own words about their political affiliation if they so choose. Applicants attested to their political party affiliation under oath.

Q: Was anyone disqualified because of their identity? 

No. Every applicant who was eligible and submitted a complete application had the chance to be randomly selected as one of the 200 semi-finalists. The demographic weighting simply corrected for any biases in the applicant pool to ensure the randomly-selected 200 semifinalists were representative of the state. 

Q: How did the Department of State work to ensure the process is truly open to Michiganders of every background?

The Department of State took several steps to ensure transparency of the applicant pool and encourage applicants from a wide range of backgrounds to apply. These steps include:

  1. Periodically publishing data about the applicant pool on our website. This included information about the number of applicants and the demographic and geographic background of those applicants. 

  2. Providing applicants with information and resources on where and how to get their application notarized - as required by the Michigan Constitution - free of charge.

  3. Working with partner organizations to spread the word about the opportunity to apply. 

  4. Hosting and attending community meetings, workshops, and town halls in communities across the state.

Ultimately, over 9300 Michiganders from all 83 counties and diverse backgrounds applied to be part of this historic effort. It is critical that people participate in the map drawing process after the commission is formed. This includes, for example, by, for example, attending a commission public hearing or submitting a map to the commission for consideration. 

You can sign up to receive updates on the redistricting process here or follow us on social media @RedistrictingMI on TwitterFacebookand Instagram.


RANDOM SELECTION FAQ


Q: How does the random selection process work? What role does the Legislature play?

The Michigan Constitution outlines a specific process for the random selection of the final 13 commissioners. The Secretary of State must randomly select commissioners from the pool of eligible applicants. This process was completed between June and August 2020. There are a three primary steps in that process. 

Step 1: Following the closure of the application period, the Secretary of State's Office must randomly select 200 semifinalist applicants and provide those applications to the Michigan Legislature for review. Of the 200 randomly selected applicants, 60 people must affiliate with the Republican Party, 60 people must affiliate with the Democratic Party and 80 must not affiliate with either of those political parties. The Secretary of State's Office was required to use statistical weighting methods to ensure the pool of 200 semifinalists mirrors the geographic and demographic makeup of the state, as specified by the state constitution. 

Step 2: In July 2020 the minority and majority leaders in the Michigan Senate and the Speaker of the House and minority leader in the Michigan House removed 20 applicants from the semifinalist pool, as permitted by the State constitution. You can review those strikes here.

Step 3: In August 2020, from the remaining pool received from the Legislature, the Secretary of State's Office randomly selected four people who affiliate with the Republican Party, four people who affiliate with the Democratic Party and five people who do not affiliate with either major political party to serve on commission.  

Q: Is the selection process truly random?

Yes. The Secretary of State plays a purely administrative role in the random selection process. Applicants drawn in various stages of the selection process will are selected at random, and the random-ness of that selection will be verified by external, independent firms as well as public observers. 

You can view the random selection of 200 semifinalists, which was livestreamed, and learn more about the random selection process.

Q: What did the Department of state use to define the demographic and geographic makeup of the state for the purposes of the random selection?

We utilized data from the 2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate, which is available to the general public via the American Community Survey Data Profiles online search tool. Michigan demographic information can be viewed here, and detailed tables with data for race and ethnicityage and sex, and geographic distribution are also available.

The variables were defined as follows:

Demographic Variables
Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?

Yes - 5.0%
No - 95.0%

Race

White - 78.52%
Black or African American - 13.81%
American Indian or Alaska Native - 0.53%
Asian - 3.06%
Other - 1.23%
Two or more races - 2.85%

Sex

Males - 49.2%
Females - 50.8%

Age

18-34 years old - 28.8%
35-54 years old - 32.4%
55+ years old - 38.8%

Geographic Variables

Southeast Michigan - 35.4% of the total state population

Eaton, Ingham, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb, Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Monroe

Wayne County - 17.7% of the total state population

West Michigan - 23.8% of the total state population

Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Isabella, Muskegon, Montcalm, Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Allegan, Barry, Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Branch

East Central Michigan - 13.6% of the total state population

Midland, Bay, Huron, Gratiot, Saginaw, Tuscola, Sanilac, Clinton, Shiawassee, Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair

Northern Michigan - 6.4% of the total state population

Emmet, Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Presque Isle, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Leelanau, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Kalkaska, Crawford, Oscoda, Alcona, Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Mason, Lake, Osceola, Arenac, Clare, Gladwin

Upper Peninsula - 3.1% of the total state population

Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Iron, Marquette, Dickinson, Menominee, Alger, Delta, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, Chippewa

Q: How large a deviation from the target population proportions did the State accept in the pool of 200 semi-finalists? 

The Department's independent contractor, Rehmann LLC, provided the Department with a recommendation based on practical field tests of the software application and preliminary test data. Accordingly, the statistical tolerances for the random selection of 200 semifinalists were set to the following:

Sex: 5.0% tolerance
Race: 3.0% tolerance
Hispanic: 2.0% tolerance
Age: 5.0% tolerance
Region: 5.0% tolerance

Additionally, at least one applicant from each demographic and geographic sub-category (including all racial groups and all geographic regions) must be included in the group of 200 semifinalists.

You can see the final geographic and demographic makeup of the 200 semifinalists.

Read more about how the process works.

Q: Are the relevant selection demographics based on the total population or the voting age population (18 and over)? If the latter is used, does it consider all voting age people or only citizens?

The Michigan Constitution requires that the Secretary of State's office use "accepted statistical weighting methods to ensure that the pools, as closely as possible, mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state." Accordingly, the demographics for race and ethnicity, sex, and geographic area are based on the total population in Michigan. However, in order to avoid a weighting imbalance and propose nearly equal weights for eligible age categories, we did not factor people age 17 and under into the weighted categories for age.

Q: Are Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish origin responses considered a "race" variable? Are they calculated together with or separate from non-Hispanic racial categories?

On the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, "Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin" is a separate question from "Race." They are separate categories and our proposed method treats them as separate variables as well. In other words, the categories for race include both Hispanic and non-Hispanic individuals. For example, a person could be both Hispanic and black, or non-Hispanic and black, and they would both be identified as "black" for the racial category. Hispanic identity is captured in a separate question, which makes it a separate variable.

Q: How did the State plan combine the requirement for the partisan breakdown on the Commission (30%/30%/40%) with the rule that the selection process should "use accepted statistical weighting methods to ensure that the pools, as closely as possible, mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state"?

The Michigan Constitution requires that the entire pool of 200 "semifinalists" mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state. There is no requirement or expectation that each of the individual partisan groups (30%/30%/40%) mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state individually - only that the combined pool of 200 semifinalists collectively mirror the state. 

Accordingly, each demographic factor was separately weighted and considered, without any cross tabulation of political party affiliation. The formula randomly selected 60 applicants who affiliate with the Democratic Party, 60 applicants who affiliate with the Republican Party, and 80 applicants who do not affiliate with either party, until the group of 200 meets the demographic and geographic criteria to reflect the state as a whole. That group of 200 semifinalists was referred to the legislature. That will be the group of 200 semifinalists referred to the legislature.

Q: Did the State use raking to apply the demographic weights to the group of applicants prior to selecting semifinalists? If so, what is the exact function in the visual basic program?

Yes, raking was performed using basic Excel functions. "Raking" is a statistical method for weighting data, commonly used in polls or surveys (for example, see Pew Research Center's explanation). Each application received a weighting factor for each demographic variable. The formula is a simple ratio of the percentage in the population of applications to the target percentage from the U.S. Census.

For more explanation, view the archived livestream of random selection.

Q: What if the random selection fails to meet stated criteria?

In order to maintain the statistical randomness of the process, the software application operated in a fully automated manner. Once the applications were loaded and the tolerances set for mirroring "as closely as possible" the geographic and demographic makeup of the state, the computer drew a random selection of 200 applications - 60 who affiliate with the Democratic Party, 60 who affiliate with the Republican Party, and 80 who do not affiliate with either party. Once that sample was within the stated tolerances, the program output the results.  In other words, in this automated process individual applicants were never discarded. Every applicant had the opportunity to be selected until all 200 met the stated criteria.

Q: Will the State disclose the software and the underlying computer code used in the random selection process so it can be reviewed and validated by outside groups?

A copy of the Visual basic for Applications code in an Excel file can be made available upon request.

 

 

 


ROLE OF SECRETARY


 

Q: What is the role of the Secretary of State once the Commission is formed?

The Secretary of State is the "secretary without a vote" of the Commission. This includes keeping the public record and providing technical assistance at the direction of the Commission [MI Constitution, Article IV, Section 6 (4), (17)].

Q: Will the Secretary of State have power over map drawing? 

No, the Secretary of State will merely serve as a "secretary without a vote." [MI Constitution, Article IV, Section 6 (4)]. The Commission is independent and autonomous. Only commissioners can instruct, vote on, or otherwise make any decisions about map drawing.