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Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Democrats submit map to Senate Redistricting Committee

The Michigan Democratic Party submitted a map this week to the state Senate Redistricting Committee with its recommendation for how redistricting lines should be redrawn by the Republican-led Legislature.

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said the party tried to preserve current boundaries and follow population rules, while creating a plan that is politically fair.

“Our goals were to create a plan that’s not gerrymandered — that’s neutral,” Brewer said. “That either party could win.”

The party’s map includes 15 Democratic, 15 Republican and eight swing districts. Six counties would be split, but no city or township would be divided by the boundaries drawn by the state Democrats.

Six “majority-minority” districts also would be created — five based in Detroit and one in Oakland County, following the requirements of the Federal Voting Rights Act.

Redistricting lines, which must be drawn by Nov. 1 to reflect the state’s population loses calculated in the 2010 census, can be completed to satisfy both parties, Brewer said.

“(Our plan) demonstrates the point that we don’t have to have a Republican-gerrymandered plan that favors them for the next 10 years,” he said.

Assistant political science professor Eric Juenke said just about every group invested in state politics is likely going to present their own redistricting plan.

“Each plan is going to be advantageous for their party or their group,” he said. “(But) they are going to try and frame it to the public as what’s fair.”

This Democratic plan is just one of many that the committee has received. At the end of April, the Senate Redistricting Committee invited members of the public to submit their own redistricting ideas for consideration by legislators. The deadline for such submissions was May 23. About 232 plans have been submitted online, said Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, vice-chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee.

The Democratic Party’s plan will be reviewed along with these others to determine the best redistricting boundaries, Jones said.

“Whatever the committee comes up with has to be fair, legal and constitutional,” he said.

But as Republicans currently are in control of the state Legislature, Juenke said they have no incentive to examine the Democrats’ suggestion seriously.

“In an ideal world, each side should be listening to each other,” he said. “But this is politics, not an ideal world.”

Because of its neutrality, Brewer said Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislators should consider the Michigan Democratic Party’s suggestion.

“The redistricting process should be about fairness and not about political advantage,” he said. “We’ll keep advocating for (our plan).”

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