Flip of Michigan legislature highlights role of fair maps

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Democratic candidates for the Michigan House and Senate won a majority of the vote this year, giving their party control of both legislative chambers. This may seem like a natural result, but this has not happened in previous elections.

While Democrats also won a majority of votes in 2018 and 2020, Republicans held a majority in the Legislature. The difference this time: Instead of those drawn by Republican lawmakers, candidates ran in new districts drawn by a citizens commission designed to help keep their party in power.

“Michigan went from some very undemanding maps to some of the best maps in the country, and we now have a perfect alignment between the votes cast by voters and the officials elected to office,” said Nancy Wang, Voters’ executive director. Not a politician Her group spearheaded a successful 2018 ballot initiative that changed the way Michigan’s legislative districts were drawn.

An Associated Press analysis of election data indicated that Michigan’s new state legislative districts reduced the inherent advantage Republicans had gained over the previous decade. This suggests that gerrymandering – or the lack thereof – can affect the balance of power in legislatures and, ultimately, the policies they pursue.

Michigan’s new legislative districts began this year with a ballot measure enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution. The abortion measure passed with nearly 57% of the vote, raising an issue that gave Democrats an edge in some competitive districts.

Abortion was “certainly a factor in my race, and most likely in every race across the state,” said Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Pamela Hornberger, whose loss of nearly 300 votes in the state Senate race was the closest statewide. .

Recently re-elected Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is already talking about working with Michigan’s new Democratic legislative majority to completely repeal a 1931 law that banned abortion and codified same-sex marriage rights — two issues that gain little traction in the Republican-led Legislature.

The legislative upheaval in Michigan was part of Democrats’ strong showing at the state level in this year’s midterm elections. A victory in the legislative or gubernatorial race also gave him full control of government in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.

Michigan is not the only state with a history of partisan gerrymandering, in which the party in charge draws districts to their advantage – packing the other party’s voters into select districts and spreading others across many districts to reduce their dominance. May be Gairmandering increased among both Republicans and Democrats in this last redistricting cycle.

Unlike Michigan, voters in about half of the states do not have the ability to put issues on the ballot through civic initiatives. So a similar redistricting initiative could not be carried out in Democratic-dominated Maryland or used to check the power of Republican-led legislatures in North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin, where partisan maps affect all lawsuits. have faced.

For the past decade, Michigan’s legislative elections were held in 2011 under a Republican-led Legislature and a map created by the governor. Those districts gave Republican candidates one of the largest advantages in the nation, according to a prior AP analysis that described possible instances of gerrymandering using a mathematical formula. That formula suggests that the maps used in the 2022 election were roughly politically neutral.

In 2018 and 2020, Democratic candidates received a slight majority of the total State House votes, yet Republicans held a 58–52 House majority each year. Democrats also received more votes for the Michigan Senate in the previous election in 2018, yet Republicans won a 22–16 majority under the maps they had drawn.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2018 established the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and stripped lawmakers of their redistricting responsibilities. The measure requires a 13-member panel, randomly selected from a pool of applicants, to consider “partisan objectivity” as one of several criteria for drawing maps. This process started with the 2020 census.

Were it not for the new districts, Macomb County Commissioner Veronica Klinefelt, a Democrat, said she probably would not run for Senate. But he took advantage of the opportunity when a new map combined parts of the previous two districts to form a new district in the north…

Credit: www.independent.co.uk /

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