Commissioner Eligibility Guidelines

Map Michigan's FutureArticle IV, Section 6 of the Michigan Constitution, as amended by Proposal 2018-2, creates the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (“the Commission”).  Section (6)(1) defines the eligibility requirements for Michigan citizens to serve on the Commission.  The Department of State has received questions about the eligibility requirements in Section (6)(1).  In response, the Department produced this guide to help Michigan citizens understand whether they are eligible to serve on the Commission. It includes the constitutional language for each category of individuals who are ineligible, along with explanations of the constitutional language based upon common understanding of the terms and how those terms are used in other parts of Michigan law. If you have a question about eligibility that is not answered or clarified below, please email your question to Redistricting@Michigan.gov for further explanation.   

Michigan Constitution Article IV, Section 6(1) in part reads as follows: 

(1) … Each commissioner shall:

(a) Be registered and eligible to vote in the State of Michigan;

(b) Not currently be or in the past 6 years have been any of the following:

(i) A declared candidate for partisan federal, state, or local office;

(ii) An elected official to partisan federal, state, or local office;

(iii) An officer or member of the governing body of a national, state, or local political party;

(iv) A paid consultant or employee of a federal, state, or local elected official or political candidate, of a federal, state, or local political candidate's campaign, or of a political action committee;

(v) An employee of the legislature;

(vi) Any person who is registered as a lobbyist agent with the Michigan bureau of elections, or any employee of such person; or

(vii) An unclassified state employee who is exempt from classification in state civil service pursuant to article XI, section 5, except for employees of courts of record, employees of the state institutions of higher education, and persons in the armed forces of the state;

(c) Not be a parent, stepparent, child, stepchild, or spouse of any individual disqualified under part (1)(b) of this section; or

(d) Not be otherwise disqualified for appointed or elected office by this constitution.

Subsection I

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … a declared candidate for partisan federal, state, or local office.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(i).

Guidance:

A “declared candidate for partisan federal, state, or local office” is any individual who does one of the following: 

(a) files a fee, an affidavit of incumbency, or a nominating petition for an elective office; 

(b) is nominated as a candidate for elective office by a political party caucus or convention and whose nomination is certified to the appropriate filing official; 

(c) receives a contribution, makes an expenditure, or gives consent for another person to receive a contribution or make an expenditure with a view to bringing about the individual's nomination or election to an elective office, whether or not the specific elective office for which the individual will seek nomination or election is known at the time the contribution is received or the expenditure is made;

(d) is an officeholder who is the subject of a recall vote;

(e) holds an elective office, unless the officeholder is constitutionally or legally barred from seeking reelection or fails to file for reelection to that office by the applicable filing deadline.

Explanation:

Michigan’s Constitution does not explicitly define “declared candidate for a partisan elected office at the federal, state, or local level.” However, similar terminology is defined in the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. The definitions in the Act do not control what the Constitution means, but they are helpful in understanding this terminology.  

The Michigan Campaign Finance Act’s definition of “candidate” in MCL 169.203(1) requires a candidate take an affirmative step in order to be recognized as a “candidate” for legal purposes (e.g. filing a fee, obtaining a party’s nomination, receiving a contribution, etc.).  These tangible steps amount to a declaration of the person’s intention to become a candidate. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a current or former candidate for school board eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. Because the office of school board is non-partisan, current or former candidates for school board are eligible to serve on the Commission.  Other nonpartisan offices include Supreme Court Justices, Judges of the Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, Probate Court, Probate District Court, District Court, or Municipal Court; local and intermediate school district Board Members; community college Board of Trustees; library trustees; and other elected officials in cities that elect officers on a nonpartisan basis.

Is a current or former candidate for mayor or city council member eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. A current or former candidate for mayor or city council in a city that elects officials on a non-partisan basis is eligible to serve on the Commission. 

Is a former candidate for judge eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. Because judicial officers are non-partisan, a current or former candidate for judge is eligible to serve on the Commission.

Is a current or former candidate for precinct delegate eligible to serve on the Commission?

No. Because the office of precinct delegate is a partisan local office, a candidate for precinct delegate at any time since August 15, 2014 is not eligible to serve on the Commission.

Subsection II

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … an elected official to partisan federal, state, or local office.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(ii).

Guidance:

An “elected official to partisan federal, state, or local office” is anyone elected to a partisan public office or appointed to fill a vacancy in a partisan public office. MCL 169.205(4).

Explanation:

Michigan’s Constitution does not explicitly define “elected official to partisan federal, state, or local office.” However, similar terminology is defined in the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. The definitions in the Act do not control what the Constitution means, but they are helpful in understanding this terminology. Under the Michigan Campaign Finance Act, the phrase “elective office” is defined as a public office filled by an election, or anyone appointed to fill a vacancy in a partisan public office that is ordinarily elected. See MCL 169.205(4).

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a current or former school board member eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. Because the office of school board is non-partisan, current or former school board member are eligible to serve on the Commission. Other nonpartisan offices include local and intermediate school district Board Members; community college Board of Trustees; library trustees; and other elected officials in cities that elect officers on a nonpartisan basis.

Is a current or former mayor or city council member eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. A current or former mayor or city council member in a city that elects officials on a non-partisan basis is eligible to serve on the Commission. 

Is a retired judge eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes, if they have been retired for at least one year.  See Article 6, Section 21 of the Michigan Constitution as discussed in Section D below and incorporated by Article 4, Section 6(1)(D) of the Michigan Constitution.

Is a sitting judge eligible to serve on the Commission?

No. While judicial offices are nonpartisan, Michigan’s Constitution prohibits a sitting judge from serving in another elective office while on the bench or for a year after their service ends.  See Article 6, Section 21 of the Michigan Constitution as discussed in Section D below and incorporated by Article 4, Section 6(1)(D) of the Michigan Constitution. 

Is a current or former precinct delegate eligible to serve on the Commission?

No. Because the office of precinct delegate is a partisan local office, a precinct delegate at any time since August 15, 2014 is not eligible to serve on the Commission.

Subsection III

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … an officer or member of the governing body of a national, state, or local political party.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(iii).

Guidance:

A “member of the governing body of a national, state, or local political party” may refer to any individual who is a member of a political party’s national committee, state “Central Committee,” local “County Committee,” or Congressional District Committee. 

An “officer … of a national, state, or local political party” may refer to the respective committees’ chair, vice chair(s), secretary, and treasurer as well as any additional officer positions that may exist for a specific political party.

Explanation:

Michigan Election Law describes governing bodies of political parties and is accordingly helpful in understanding what these terms mean. Michigan Election Law requires political parties to have a “County Committee” at the local level in MCL 168.599(4) and to have a “Central Committee” at the state level in MCL 168.597. Given their defined leadership roles, these committees, as well as a political party’s national committee, seem to fall within the meaning of a “governing body.” 

Subsection IV

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … a paid consultant or employee of a federal, state, or local elected official or political candidate, of a federal, state, or local political candidate’s campaign, or of a political action committee.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(iv).

Guidance:

An “employee” refers to an individual who works for another person or for a company for wages or a salary. 

A “paid consultant” refers to an individual who is paid to give professional advice or services, perhaps as an independent contractor.

Explanation:

Michigan’s Constitution does not further define “paid consultant or employee of a federal, state, or local elected official or political candidate, of a federal, state, or local political candidate’s campaign, or of a political action committee.” The guidance provided above is the common meaning of the words as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

If I currently or in the past volunteered on a campaign for or against an elected official, political candidate, campaign, or political action committee, am I eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. Because volunteers are not paid for their services, serving as a volunteer on any political campaign does not disqualify you from serving on the commission.

Is a paid consultant or employee of a non-partisan elected official, non-partisan political candidate or non-partisan local political candidate’s campaign eligible to serve on the Commission?

No. Someone who has served as a paid consultant or employee of a non-partisan official, a non-partisan political candidate, or a non-partisan local candidate’s campaign at any time since August 15, 2014 is not eligible to serve on the Commission.  The disqualification in this provision applies to all employees and paid consultants who were paid in exchange for work by partisan or nonpartisan elected officials, candidates, or local political candidate’s campaigns.  This includes paid consultants and employees of non-partisan elected officials such as school board members, judges, mayors, and city council members, as well as paid consultants and employees of candidates for non-partisan offices such as school board, judge, mayor, and city council.

Subsection V

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … an employee of the Legislature.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(v).

Guidance:

An “employee of the Legislature” may refer to an individual who works for the Legislature for wages or a salary. 

Explanation:

Michigan’s Constitution does not define the term “employee.” The guidance provided above is the meaning of the word “employee” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a volunteer or unpaid intern working in the Legislature eligible to serve on the Commission?

Yes. Because volunteers and unpaid interns do not work for wages or a salary, they do not fall within the dictionary definition of employees, they are eligible to serve on the Commission. 

Are employees of a legislative committee, department, and body that operates in the Legislature eligible to serve on the Commission?

No. Any employee of a committee, department, or body that operates in the Legislature who is or was employed at any time since August 15, 2014 is not eligible to serve on the Commission.  This limitation applies to all House and Senate Committees, Joint Committees, as well as all departments and bodies that operate in the Legislature, including but not limited to the Clerk of the House, the House Fiscal Agency, the House Republican Policy Office, the House Democratic Staff, the Secretary of the Senate, the Senate Fiscal Agency, the Criminal Justice Policy Commission, the Michigan Law Revision Commission, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, the Legislative Corrections Ombudsman, the Legislative Service Bureau, the Michigan Commission on Uniform State Laws, the Michigan Veterans’ Facility Ombudsman, and the State Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee.

Subsection VI

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … any person who is registered as a lobbyist agent with the Michigan Bureau of Elections, or any employee of such person.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(vi).

Guidance:

A “person who is registered as a lobbyist agent with the Michigan Bureau of Elections” refers to an individual who has registered with the Michigan Bureau of Elections as a “lobbyist agent.”

Any employee of such person” refers to any individual who works for a registered lobbyist agent, in any capacity, for wages or a salary.

Explanation:

Michigan Constitution’s reference to an individual’s “registration as a lobbyist agent with the Michigan Bureau of Elections” identifies who may be considered a “lobbyist agent.” 

The Constitutional provision does not define the term “employee.”  The guidance regarding “employee” in the above sections is the meaning of the word “employee” as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The Constitution does not specify that the person’s employment must be related to lobbying in order for the exclusion to apply.  It refers to “any employee of such person” and thus is broadly defined for purposes of this provision.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How do I know if my employer is or has been “registered as a lobbyist agent with the Michigan Bureau of Elections” at any time since August 15, 2014?

Please see this website: https://miboecfr.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/lobby_srch.cgi.

What is a “lobbyist agent”? 

“Lobbyist agent” is defined in the Michigan Lobbying Act as: an individual who receives compensation or reimbursement of actual expenses, or both, in a combined amount in excess of $625 in any 12-month period for lobbying.  Lobbyist agents are required to register with the Michigan Bureau of Elections. The registration process is described in the Michigan Lobbying Act at MCL 4.417(2).

Subsection VII

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not currently be or in the past 6 years have been … an unclassified state employee who is exempt from classification in state civil service pursuant to Article XI, Section 5, except for employees of courts of record, employees of the state institutions of higher education, and persons in the armed forces of the state.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(b)(vii).

Guidance:

An “unclassified state employee” is a designation for certain individuals employed in state government.

Article XI, Section 5 of the state constitution defines which positions fall within the classified civil service, and it excludes the following positions as unclassified state employees: “[those positions in the state] filled by popular election, heads of principal departments, members of boards and commissions, the principal executive officer of boards and commissions heading principal departments, … employees of the legislature, … eight exempt positions in the office of the governor, and within each principal department, when requested by the department head, two other exempt positions, one of which shall be policy-making. The civil service commission may exempt three additional positions of a policy-making nature within each principal department.

Section D

What the Constitution says:

“Each Commissioner shall: … not be otherwise disqualified for appointed or elected office by this Constitution.” MI Const Art 4 §6(1)(D).

Guidance:

Otherwise disqualified for appointed or elected office by this Constitution” refers to the following provisions of the Michigan Constitution: 

  • “[The auditor general] shall be ineligible for appointment or election to any other public office in this state from which compensation is derived while serving as auditor general and for two years following the termination of his service.” MI Const Art 4 §53.

  • “Any justice or judge of a court of record shall be ineligible to be nominated for or elected to an elective office other than a judicial office during the period of his service and for one year thereafter. MI Const Art 6 §21.

  • “A person is ineligible for election or appointment to any state or local elective office of this state and ineligible to hold a position in public employment in this state that is policy-making or that has discretionary authority over public assets if, within the immediately preceding 20 years, the person was convicted of a felony involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or a breach of the public trust and the conviction was related to the person's official capacity while the person was holding any elective office or position of employment in local, state, or federal government. This requirement is in addition to any other qualification required under this constitution or by law.” MI Const Art 11 §8.