Michigan’s Political Lineup
There are no specific deadlines for either congressional or legislative redistricting.
Who’s in Charge of Redistricting?
The legislature. The governor has veto power over both redistricting plans.
The committees in charge of redistricting will hold public hearings around the state. The legislature will create an "enhanced common database." This database will contain census data overlaid with past election data and precinct boundary maps. The database is intended to be a common source of information so that redistricting proposals will be based on consistent information. The public can purchase this enhanced database for a fee. While it is not official, the Gongwer News Service has an excellent website with Michigan redistricting news.
The 1991-1992 congressional redistricting was ultimately done by a federal court, after it rejected plans put forward by the Democrats and by the Republicans as too partisan. The new plan made numerous changes to incumbents' districts, resulting in a significant shake-up for incumbents. Of 16 incumbents, only 11 survived the 1992 elections.In 2001, Michigan Republicans control the legislature and the governor’s office and are in in a good position to monopolize redistricting in 2001. With the state losing a seat and several Democrats potentially vulnerable, Republican dominance spells trouble for congressional Democrats in the state such as David Bonior (who already has announced for governor), Sander Levin, James Barcia, Bart Stupak and Dale Kildee. Of course, transferring too many Republican voters from GOP-held districts could make those competitive for Democrats, so redistricting will be a challenge for Michigan’s legislature.
In 1992, a federal district court rejected both the Republican and Democratic congressional districting plans for their failure to take into account neutral districting principles such as compactness and preservation of municipal boundary lines. The court drew its own plan, changing so many incumbent districts that only John Dingell ran in the same numbered district in 1992.
The city of Detroit sued in federal district court on behalf of its citizens who they alleged were undercounted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The plaintiffs requested a statistical adjustment or another actual count of its residents. The trial court and the 6th circuit found for the Census Bureau, citing the plaintiffs’ lack of standing and their failure to demonstrate a "genuine issue of material fact."
At the state level, a Michigan state court approved an appointed special master's legislative district plan against claims of equal population and Voting Rights Act violations. The court explained that the population deviations of 16.4% were justified by the special master's objectives of preserving county and municipal boundaries. The court also found that the plan did not violate the Voting Rights Act by packing too many black voters into some districts.
The Michigan legislature is currently under a court order to have redistricting completed by November 2001 and to follow specific guidelines for state legislative districts. They include: population deviations within 5%; maintaining county boundaries; and respecting the political boundaries of cities and townships.