Join us for a lively discussion on Michigan’s new redistricting approach and new maps that will shape elections and decision making in Michigan for the next decade. January 19, 2022.
0:00:24.7 Tom Ivacko: Good evening, and welcome to tonight's event on Michigan's new approach to redistricting. I'm Tom Ivacko, the Executive Director of CLOSUP, which is the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy. And we're located at the University of Michigan's Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy. It's my pleasure to kick off tonight's event. We're gonna hear from an expert panel on their evaluations of Michigan's new redistricting, including our new maps, our new process and their thoughts about what worked well and perhaps what could be improved for next time around. I'm going to just give a very brief introduction before I hand it off to the moderator tonight. And I'd like to start by thanking our co-sponsors. Tonight's event is hosted by CLOSUP, and it's co-sponsored by Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, better known as IPPSR. It's also co-sponsored by Voters Not Politicians, the grassroots organization that gave us a ballot initiative for Michigan's new approach to redistricting. The other co-sponsors are the Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy, the League of Women Voters of Michigan, the University of Michigan's Program in Practical Policy Engagement, and Detroit Public Television. And we're grateful for the support of all these great organizations.
0:01:46.5 TI: Tonight's event will be moderated by Matt Grossmann. Matt is Director of IPPSR at MSU, and he's also a Professor of Political Science there. Matt's also a Senior Fellow at the Niskanen Center and a contributor at FiveThirtyEight. He's the author or co-author of numerous books, including 'How Social Science Got Better,' 'Asymmetric Politics,' 'Red State Blues,' 'The Not So Special Interests,' 'Artists of the Possible,' and Campaigns and Elections,' as well as dozens of journal articles. Matt published analysis in The New York Times and Washington Post and Politico, and he hosts the Science of Politics podcast, which is a really great podcast series. I'm sure many of our audience members tonight would be interested, you should look it up and subscribe, it's just a great set of discussions. Matt is also opening a bookstore, coffee shop and wine bar in Lansing, Michigan, it's gonna be a terrific resource for the community. And once that is up and running, perhaps we can gather there to continue these kinds of conversations. And so with that, I'll turn it over to Matt who will really get us going. Matt, thanks so much for moderating tonight's discussion.
0:03:08.6 Matt Grossmann: Well, thank you, Tom, and good evening everyone. Yes, Michigan and Michigan State can partner to advance the state, and we're proud of our successful relationship to aid and evaluate the new redistricting process. In addition to joining Tom in thanking tonight's sponsors, I'd also like to thank the Joyce Foundation for their continued support. This first-time process has been quite an opportunity to try out a new approach to redistricting, to draw fairer maps with more public input. Tonight, we review how Michigan did. Here's how tonight will go. We'll have 35 minutes for remarks from our four presenters, then we'll have about 50 minutes for questions, those submitted when you signed up and those that come to mind as you're watching tonight. We'll begin with Nancy Wang from Voters Not Politicians, she'll give an overview of the state's new redistricting process. Then Edward Woods III, Communications and Outreach Director for the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will provide a view of public participation during the commission's deliberations.
0:04:10.0 MG: Jon Eguia will follow to provide a review of the new commission-approved maps. Jon is Professor of Economics and Political Science at Michigan State. And then David Daley will give a national view comparing Michigan's redistricting process with those of other states. David is a Senior Fellow at FairVote and author of 'Unrigged.' Bios for the presenters are available at closup.umich.edu and in the live chat. And tonight's webinar recording, those of previous webinars and links to a lot of additional resources to keep you informed will be posted at closup.umich.edu. After the presentations, we'll turn to those questions that were submitted by those who registered in advance for this webinar. We then encourage you to engage and ask more questions in the YouTube chat box, on the Facebook chat, or on Twitter you can tweet your questions to #Policytalks. Our partners from Voters Not Politicians will also help answer some of the questions directly in the live chat. Now, to get us started is Nancy Wang of Voters Not Politicians, the group that brought the ballot initiative forward, providing an overview of how Michigan got here and what the state achieved. Nancy?
0:05:23.6 Nancy Wang: Great. Thank you so much, Matt. I do have a few slides I wanted to show, I'm so excited to be part of this discussion tonight. I'm gonna give an overview of the process, like Matt just said, just the basics, and then I'm just gonna touch on some of the areas of great public interest that we've seen, including the Voting Rights Act and the mapping criteria. My takeaways from this whole process so far is that redistricting is very complex, it is a... Truly a delicate balance of competing interest. There's tough legal issues, so tough that one court in a VRA case has described it as, "These commissions are facing competing hazards of liability." And there's not one way to do it, but when it's been done best, it's been done by citizens commissions.
0:06:12.4 NW: And our process, while it hasn't been perfect, it's still been a huge step forward for our state and the fairness of our elections. And our first Independent Citizens commission really has done and achieved an... A historic achievement... Accomplishment that's really provided hope for the rest of the nation, especially now during the times of such hyper-partisanship chaos dysfunction in our government. And it's really provided fair maps for our state and something we can be proud of.
0:06:49.9 NW: So I'll start with the first slide. All political power is inherent in the people, that's what made the volunteers at Voters Not Politicians get involved. What gerrymandering does is it completely takes away our power. Our politicians then use our political system just to entrench themselves in power, and they're completely unaccountable to the voters. And for the next slide, then what happened then was in 2016, our group of volunteers got together to put a ballot initiative in order to create a fair, impartial and transparent process that could be led by citizens. And the slide number three please. What we mean by fair is the GOP in Michigan have locked in power for 10 years at a time, gerrymandering gives them a large and enduring advantage. And what we have now is a fair process where the maps are drawn by citizens, and there can be no disproportionate advantage to one party or another.
0:07:58.1 NW: Next slide. Impartial, because the solution was to end this practice of one party putting their hands, their thumbs on the scale to give themselves as much advantage in the next set of elections as they could. In Michigan, for example in 2011 when the Republicans were gerrymandering our maps, they said that they wanted to pack, "all the Dem garbage into one Congressional district." What we have now is an impartial process where citizen commissioners from... That are Republican, Democrats or third-party supporters and independents have to work together, and they have to draw maps using very strict criteria, a set of rules that they have to follow, and they have to reach a consensus and agreement as to what maps they're going to adopt together. Next slide.
0:08:51.6 NW: And then finally, the third hallmark of the process we have now is that it's transparent. Before, we didn't even have any idea as to who was in the room drawing maps. Actually, a lot of the lawmakers that were... Had to vote and approve the district maps in 2011 had not even seen the maps before they were voting, all they saw was a list of census tracks. That was how opaque our redistricting process was when politicians were doing it, and now we have something that's the complete opposite of that.
0:09:26.8 NW: Our Citizen's commission held... I said 140, but I think it's 139 public hearings in the last year-and-a-half. They took in 25,000 public comments both in person and through their portal and map submissions as well, and by February 26, it's going to have to publish a report showing all of its hallmark. How it drew... How it adopted the maps that it did and how those maps follow and comply with all the criteria that are in the amendment. And then the commission also has to make available all of the data that it used to draw those maps. So we have a completely transparent process now where people can really dig in and replicate the commission's work. And that... All of those things are what we wanted to put in place, we want those to kind of characterize the new process that we would have in Michigan. But of course the problem is how can you actually do that in an era of such toxicity, such hyperpartisanship, not just in... With politicians but with the electorate. And what we had to make sure then was to deal with four things and to make them kinda the backbone, the foundation, of a really independent, truly independent but also functional process, and that is we had to make sure that the commission was composed a certain way to make it kind of set up for success.
0:11:00.7 NW: That meant that no politicians could be on the commission, no political appointees. We wanted to get everybody with a conflict of interest out of the process. And we wanted to make it balanced, so unlike it being unfair and one party putting their thumb on the scale, we have a commission now that has Republicans and Independents or non... Third-party supporters and Democrats. And the process, like I said before, was that they had to work together to read... Reach consensus on a set of maps so that no one party or even two of those buckets together could kind of skew the results and draw maps that were kind of unfair to anyone else. And then that Citizens commission that is balanced then has to... They had to have a set of strict rules that they had to follow, otherwise you would just have complete chaos or dysfunction or paralysis. And so what we did was, like a lot of these other citizens commissions, they have a set of strict criteria. And in Michigan, they're ranked. So all of the maps had to, for example comply with federal law, including the Voting Rights Act, and then there's other criteria that I'll get into in a minute.
0:12:14.7 NW: And the maps that the commission has now adopted, they have to be shown to meet all of these different criteria by certain tests that the commission has to run and talk about in their report that's due in the end of February. To have a functional system, we also needed to have the commission have ultimate authority. We can't have a commission that does all of this work, that takes all this public input, and then at the end of the day, politicians can kinda just throw their work out the window. So here in Michigan, all of the authority for map-drawing lies with the commission and always does. So right now, there's some lawsuits against the... There's a lawsuit pending against the maps that the commission drew. And depending on how these legal issues shake out, even if the maps need some more work, it's gonna be the commission that does it. It's not... This isn't going back into the hands of our politicians, it's not going to be handled by the courts, it is our Citizens commission that we voted for that will do the work. And then finally, we had to have a consensus element, because there's no incentive for different people to work together if they can just kind of stalemate and...
0:13:31.7 NW: Or think that the process is rigged against them, and so you really want it to make sort of a fair and balanced process, where all of the different parties feel represented and feel like they have a voice and that their vote on the commission is important as any... Is as important as anybody else's. So I see we're on the mapping criteria slide. This is kinda the... When I say composition of the commission is important, the strict rules it has to follow, and then it has to have authority, and it has to vote by or work by consensus. The mapping criteria are the strict rules they need to follow. And if you'll look at this chart, you'll see what Michigan did, what we did was we modeled the Citizens commission after California and Arizona, which when Michigan passed our constitutional amendment, California and Arizona also had Citizens Commissions that had been doing work and that had successfully adopted maps in their states for at least one redistricting cycle.
0:14:34.4 NW: And you'll see, like I said, there's not one correct way to have a redistricting process, but there are sort of different elements that you'll see carrying through these different states, because they have a rationale behind them that makes sense. So US Constitution, equal population, all of that is the same. And I've highlighted here though, communities of interest. So communities of interest just means you have a representational democracy, you want a group of people that share interests to be able to vote together and elect someone who's representing them and kind of advocating for what they want either in Lansing or DC. And the definition of COI is sort of... It's sort of broad, and the concept is sort of amorphous, but it's not... That doesn't mean that it is...
0:15:33.1 NW: That it doesn't mean anything. In fact, it is a very well-understood concept that is used in the redistricting processes of a lot of other states, not just for commissions, but even when politicians are drawing their maps. And it just means that you have a community of shared, let's say economic or historic or ethnic interest, and you want to vote as a block to get those interests met. And you'll see Michigan, California and Arizona, we all put COIs towards the top of our list of criteria. Because, again, gerrymandering cracks and packs all of our communities for the sake of getting partisan advantage for politicians. We wanted to take back our redistricting process and put the people first.
0:16:26.0 NW: Next, you'll see I highlighted also in Michigan there's this criteria that comes right after communities of interest, and it says you can't provide any disproportionate advantage to any party, any political party. And that of course is, again, undoing the gerrymandering that's kinda been what our politicians have been doing in our state. It's... That means that all of our maps, if you look at them kind of state-wide, how many seats the Democratics... The Democrats will have in our State House, for example, how many seats the Republicans will have. Those seats... The number of seats that each party gets should roughly equal their share of the vote state-wide. And that is an issue, because if Michigan, let's say, is purple state, I think the vote totals have slightly skewed Democrats over Republicans. Then gerrymandering meant that our legislature, our Congressional delegation has always skewed Republican instead of Democrats, and that was because of gerrymandering.
0:17:37.7 NW: So we wanted to undo that and make sure that our maps were... Kind of re-balance that in terms of fairness. You'll see though that Arizona does not have a partisan fairness requirement in their redistricting process, which I thought was really interesting. It could be that... I'm not sure what that is about, but actually it could be that they tried to... They wanted to get at this idea through another way of competitiveness. Competitiveness is like fairness, but it's with respect to just a district. So every district, if they were competitive, it would be sort of like a 50-50 fight between Republicans and Democrats like voters in that district. But you'll see though that in Michigan, for example, you'll have a lot of counties that are red, red, red, and you'll have some areas that are blue, blue, blue.
0:18:33.0 NW: If you wanted to make every single district competitive, then you'd have to sort of really gerrymander your way there to kind of bring some Republican voters together with some Democratic voters. And we really wanted to make sure that we didn't have to do that in an artificial way but would rather that we would want to have as many districts as possible where people that were like-minded could vote together. So we picked... There's partisan fairness that gets at your vote should count. You want people to fight for your vote, but there's two ways of going about it, looking at it state-wide versus looking at it district by district. And then I guess the final thing I'll point out... There's a lot of things you can take out of this, but one of the things is compactness. You'll see that Arizona elevates that in importance, and Michigan ranks it lower. And then political boundaries is also interesting with cities and counties. Ours is ranked so low, I think, because of the history of gerrymandering in Michigan. Our politicians used city and county lines as an excuse to explain away their gerrymanders by saying, "Oh, no, we didn't... We weren't really packing and cracking, we were just kind of keeping county lines together."
0:19:55.2 NW: So we wanted to take that away as a valid reason, and we wanted to put fairness and communities of interest much higher above keeping these kind of arbitrary political boundaries together. And then finally, so on this criteria part, I just wanted to say that about the difficulty of mapping, there are a lot of these things that kind of are almost at cross-purposes to another, and then we're kind of seeing this playing out in lawsuits and in the public, in the media and such. There's cracking and there's packing, right? So there's Voting Rights Act, there's how many black voters you would need in one district to make sure that black voters could elect the representative of their choice.
0:20:51.9 NW: That is a requirement in the Voting Rights Act that they don't dilute minority voting power. But then at the same time, there's also a tension between voting power, but then also racial gerrymandering, you don't wanna pack so many black voters into a district that you kind of dilute their voting power in other districts, right? So you have one district with a black candidate as opposed to three, so there really is that tension there, and that is a really thorny issue, and that's why there's a lawsuit and the court has to work its way through the different cases, 'cause there is no very easy way to come to an answer. And then there is a tension between, well, what if you advocated for a community of interest, but then there's another competing...
0:21:39.1 NW: There's a different community of interest that kind of shares that same area, right? So how does the commission... The commission has to really kind of make choices. And as it's drawing the maps. Another issue is kind of the tension between communities of interest and keeping them together and partisan fairness, and these are kinds of the things that I think at the end of this process... Because there was so much transparency, I hope people come away with the understanding that these are very hard decisions to have to grapple with, and that's why it's so important for us to have an open process now where we can be part of the conversation, we can have our voice heard, as opposed to us being completely shut out of the process before.
0:22:36.4 NW: And then next slide. Sorry, I know my time is... I'm sorry, taking so long. I just have two more points to make in the next slide. Oh, sorry, so this building on continue of engagement, redistricting is just one piece of the puzzle. It really is about the census, it's about redistricting and fair maps, and then it's about voting. So we really need to vote our politicians in that we want in, and if they're not working for us, we need to vote them out. And we can do that if we have maps that are fair and pro-voter. And then the last slide.
0:23:11.4 NW: These are quotes from Michael Li actually at the Brennan Center. When we first started the campaign, he came to advise us on best practices, what was being done in California or Arizona, and he said, "Well, it's so nice to meet you. I'm really excited about your campaign, but I must say that Michigan... When I told people where I was coming, they said, 'Well, Michigan is the place where good ideas go to die.'" And now that we've had this really wonderful experience and this commission that's been so publicly hard... Working so hard to draw these maps, we really are... Provide hope for this nation.
0:23:49.2 NW: We're showing that this process can actually be functional, that citizens can be in the center of it and work across party lines and with mutual respect and get at... Do the work and get at a result. And next, we just... This process we'll build on it, and we'll keep building on it and make our next process even more perfect. And we'll keep doing this where we evaluate, we vote, we draw fairer maps, and this is how we take our democracy back, so thank you.
0:24:25.3 MG: Thanks, Nancy. Next, we have Edward Woods III, Communications and Outreach Director for the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. For a reminder of how the commission engaged the public and got to the maps. Edward.
0:24:39.2 Edward Woods III: Thank you, Matt. I appreciate being here, I wanna give kudos and a shout out to CLOSUP at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy for inviting the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission led by Tom Ivacko. I'm gonna give a shout out to Nancy Wang and Voters Not Politicians. Really appreciate you sponsoring this as well. And last but not least to you Matt, to Michigan State University Institute for Public Policy and Social Research.
0:25:07.9 EI: I am excited to be here to represent the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. If you look at our great commissioners, we have some fine people across the state of Michigan, as you know, that were assembled in a randomly selective process. And I'm just happy to shout out who I work for, Doug Clark, who affiliates with the Republican Party at the top. Juanita Curry who affiliates with the Democratic Party. Anthony Eid who affiliates neither as a democrat or a republican, what we commonly call independent. Brittni Kellom, who affiliates with the Democratic Party. Rhonda Lange, who affiliates with the Republican Party. Steve Lett who affiliates neither with the Democrats or Republicans. Cynthia Orton, who affiliates with the Republican Party. MC Rothhorn who affiliates with the Democratic Party and is currently serving as vice-chair. Rebecca Szetela who affiliates neither with the Democrat or the Republican party and who's currently serving as the chairperson of the commission. Janice Vallette who also doesn't affiliate neither with the Democrat or Republican party.
0:26:24.2 EI: Erin Wagner who affiliates with the Republican party. Richard Weiss who affiliates neither with the Democrat or the Republican party. And then last Dustin Witjes. In addition to these commissioners I want give a shout out to our Executive Director, Suann Hammersmith. General Counsel Julianne Pastula, and our Executive Assistant Sara Martinez. This comprises the team of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that led out in Michigan's new redistricting process.
0:26:56.9 EI: Our public outreach was overseen by the commission, as you know, we got started off with the census delay, of course, we were going through a pandemic, so we've started off in March of 2020, and we did 72 virtual government presentations across the State of Michigan. That was done by our commissioners, I mean it was an exciting process to get people engaged to share the story about Michigan's new redistricting process, the seven-rank criteria, and just interact and just get the word out and increase awareness about this new redistricting process. We hosted 16 public hearings in our first round of public hearings, the commission, as you know, are overachievers, believing in openness and transparency as well as being fairness, awareness and engagement, and they said, let's go out. And the constitution said 10, but in the first round, we did 16, and you know, before any maps could be drawn, the commissioners had to hear from Michiganders.
0:28:02.3 EI: Let me say it again, this is government for the people, by the people, and this is the best, I think the best example of high school civics that you will ever see is that before they could draw any line, not a map, not a district, a line, they had to hear directly from Michigan voters. I just think that was an awesome experience that the commission engaged in, and instead of doing 10, they did 16. We looked around the state and we noticed that we needed to do some collaborations, we were really concerned with that just being in urban and suburban areas, but also going to some rural areas. So when we looked at university collaborations with the campus vote engagement project and campus select in the month of September, the commission said, "You know what, let's go out to these areas where we haven't visited during the first round of public hearings, and let's hear directly with them with regards to comments."
0:29:03.2 EI: We went to five universities, we went to the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor on September 2nd. On September 9th, we were at Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan. On September 16th, we went to Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. On September 23rd, we went to Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, and on September 30th, we went to Oakland University in Rochester Hills. We were so excited to have those collaborations and partnerships with those groups, I just wanted to give them a shout out.
0:29:41.6 EI: Then last, but not least we had to do five public hearings, five public hearings, which we did for our second round of public hearings where the commissioners provided some proposed maps, I should say some proposed maps for the public's consideration. For the public consideration, we did some proposed maps in addition to the 16 public hearings and the five university collaborations, I probably should have put this up earlier. We also did two region meetings, in other words, we went to different regions in the state that we didn't cover before, whether it's from the university collaborations or our first 16, I should say, public hearings, we went to Traverse City and hosted a meeting in Traverse City, Michigan, and we also hosted a meeting at Lake Michigan College and Benton Harbor, Michigan as well.
0:30:29.8 EI: As you can see from the pictures, this is the first round of public hearings that you'll see right there, the one on the left took place in Midland Michigan, the one in the middle took place at the Village Dome at Fellowship Chapel in Detroit, Michigan. And the one on my right, the last one on my right, took place at Dearborn, Michigan, at the Performing Arts Center.
0:30:53.8 EI: In addition to our public hearings, we also did town hall meetings, we did presentations, we wanted to go out to rural areas, and we started an interview or a television broadcast called Candid Conversations, and did a lot of interviews. The one on the left my left with the Asian Pacific Islander American, we wanna thank Rebeka Islam and her group. They did a town hall meeting for us in Warren, Michigan, where Warren, Michigan, that's there, the one in the middle was a Rotary Club meeting for Pinconning and Standish, for Pinconning and Standish, and then one of my right is a town hall meeting that we did in conjunction with Pastor Hurley Colman and also the Honorable Gary Loster. The Honorable Gary Loster is the former mayor of Saginaw, Michigan and the former police chief of Saginaw-Buena Vista Township.
0:31:50.0 EI: The commissioners that you see with him, there's Commissioners Juanita Curry, Commissioner Richard Weiss, Commissioner MC Rothhorn, and Commissioner Janice Vallette. We went to fairs, we were really excited, we went to the Mecosta County Fair. And we also did the Osceola County 4-H Fair. And then we also partnered with rural partners of Michigan. Just some of the things that we did in our rural areas, wanna give a shout out to Commissioner Ron Delaney for the emphasis, but also being at those fairs to spread awareness about Michigan's new redistricting process. Our candid conversations, we did an excellent show where Commissioner Dustin Witjes actually talked about the maps, if you have not seen that, please go to our MICRC YouTube channel, and they talked about the maps. It was Commissioner Witjes. It was Commissioner Anthony Eid and Commissioner Janice Vallette that played a part of that process and sharing. And then we did just did a lot of interviews with different media outlets across the country, including podcasts, just spreading the word. I just wanna thank our 13 commissioners for being willing and present and getting the word out and increasing engagement in Michigan's new redistricting process.
0:33:03.5 EI: Our public engagement, this is as of December 28, 2021, this is when the commission voted. The maps as many of you you may already know, the Congressional Map is the Chestnut Map that was voted by the commission. The six state Senate Map was the Linden map, and then the State House Map was the Hickory. And our public engagement in terms of in-person, and this data is collected by the Michigan Department of State.
0:33:31.3 EI: So I wanna give a shout out to Sarah Rhinehart and Yvonne Young for collecting these numbers. 2141 people provided in person, and this is from May. From the first round of public hearings all the way to the second round. I should say to the vote that took place on December 28th. Written and email comments, whether they mailed them to our PO Box or emailed them, 1023. Remote comments, means they either called in by phone or came in through Zoom, 1369. The public comment portal that is available off our website, we received a total of 7580 comments. And then the mapping comment portal where people were able to speak to the draft maps, the draft proposed maps and the proposed maps, 17,371. You know we had an initial goal of 10,000 and we nearly got 30,000 comments. And these were the comments that were used by the commission to draw the maps.
0:34:36.6 EI: Once again, public input is still needed. Right now, we're in the process of trying to identify ways that we could improve the process. We believe since Michigan voters by more than 61% said that they wanted Voters Not Politicians to draw the lines. We believe these same Michiganders can look at our process and share with us how we can improve. So if you would please go to the public comment portal, and put your perspective and opinions there at michigan.gov/micrc. We would welcome them, we started a kick-off campaign last week and will welcome these comments to the end of the month.
0:35:20.6 EI: Last but not least, if you have to contact us call 1833 YOU DRAW. That's 1833-968-3729. You can like or still follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @RedistrictingMI. Mail your public comments to MICRC, PO Box 30318, Lansing, Michigan, 48909. Or you could subscribe to our YouTube channel, or once again submit public comments at michigan.gov/micrc on our public comment portal. Once again, thank you so much for this opportunity.
0:36:01.5 MG: Thanks Edward. Next please welcome Jon Eguia. Professor of Economics and Political Science at Michigan State University, and the author of our IPPSR report on the process and the maps for a review of the results. How well did the maps meet the commission's criteria, Jon?
0:36:18.6 Jon Eguia: Thank you, Matt. I'm going to present the results of this report on the Michigan redistricting maps. This report brings together work by several research teams at Michigan State and the University of Michigan, and also at the MGGG Lab at Princeton, Yale, and Duke. So what we did is we looked at all 19 collaborative maps published by the commission in the fall in these rounds that Edward talked about. And we measured how each of these maps performed on each of the seven criteria listed in the Michigan constitution that Nancy talked about, including, of course, the Congressional adopted map Chestnut, the adopted map for Michigan Senate, Linden and the adopted map for Michigan House Hickory. So for the exact definitions of the measures we use and the exact numerical values of their results, you can consult a report that is publicly available on IPPSR website. But here for this presentation, I will summarize the results graphically. So I will give a green check mark for any map and criteria that performs well overall on that criteria according to the measures we use.
0:37:46.6 JE: And more of disagreement, controversy icon of thumbs up, thumbs down would indicate that there are some problems and that the map, at least according to some criteria performs poorly and arguably did not quite satisfy the criteria. So that is a first impression, you can see that overall, the Congressional Map Chestnut seems to do pretty well, and there're perhaps more controversy signs of potential problems on the state legislative maps.
0:38:23.2 JE: I'm gonna focus on the top controversies over the four highest rank criteria. So let's zoom in on those in the next slide. The two main controversies that have come up in public commentary and questions for the seminar about partisan fairness on the one hand, and mostly about compliance of the voting rights and reflecting communities of interest, and in particular the community of interest of African-Americans and Black voters, mostly in and around the city of Detroit.
0:39:04.2 JE: In this slide the scales of justice indicate there's a pending lawsuit surrounding the particular criterion. So let me touch first on the easiest of these two controversies to talk about, partisan fairness. There are several ways to think about what is fair and to measure fairness in redistricting maps. And what's great about the Congressional Map Chestnut is that however you look at it, whichever measure you use, it comes up great. Pretty close to perfectly fair within the bounds that are considered acceptable. However, whatever is your preferred measure or your angle on fairness. That's not so on the State Legislative Maps for the Michigan Senate and House. On those, the commission looked at four measures including one that Nancy mentioned, on proximity to what would be proportional to state wide vote, that was one of three. And according to the measures that the commission was looking at, the maps do very well. However, according to other measures that the commission did not look at, the maps performed poorly.
0:40:24.0 JE: And I bring this up because for instance, according to measures or notions of fairness that the Supreme Court of Ohio used this very same week, this past week, to toss out the Ohio Maps as extreme outliers that favored the Republican Party. Using those same measures, the Map Linden and Map Hickory would be also extreme outliers in this case favoring the Democratic party. So that could be a problem. But there are no lawsuits on this, so let me turn the page to look at the controversy where there is a pending lawsuit. On Voting Rights Act and communities of interest.
0:41:07.0 JE: So we cannot predict what the courts will do, and it'll be up to the courts to analyze this very subtle question that is thorny and difficult. But at the heart of the controversy and the lawsuit, lies a question that is more quantitative or more measurable. Which is how many Black voters do you need in a district to be confident that the candidate preferred by Black voters will win the primary and will win the general election?
0:41:38.6 JE: Because if you have enough Black voters that this is true, then this is what we call a district of opportunity. In which the Black voters can be confident that they will get to elect a candidate of their choice. The Voting Rights Act implies for Michigan that there should be enough of these districts of opportunity for the Black community. So what's the share of voters of Black voters in the district that is enough for a district to be one of these required districts of opportunity?
0:42:13.3 JE: The commission has argued that about 40% Black voters is enough for Black voters to carry the day. And if that's true, then the commission maps are great because the commission maps have drawn a lot of such districts with at least 40% Black voters. However, plaintiffs from the City of Detroit argue that 40% is not enough to be confident that you'll win the district. That you need a majority Black, 50% plus one.
0:42:47.1 JE: If that is true, then the commission Maps are terrible, because both the Congressional and the Senate one have zero districts, that are districts of opportunity according to that threshold. Now social scientists will tell you that there is no magic number or percentage that is for sure enough. Rather, the higher the percentage the more confident you are. However, 40% is risky is probably at the low end where you're concerned that this might not be enough, and there is no good evidence to be confident at that level.
0:43:17.7 JE: 50% is probably too much. So say for the sake of illustration that you take a middle-of-the road approach, I give a 45% cut off to say that these districts are the districts of opportunity. Then in the bottom table of the slide, we compare the number of districts of opportunity with that cut off to the commission's Map to the number of such districts that would arise in race neutral maps that we're not trying to have more or fewer districts with any particular racial component.
0:43:50.7 JE: And you look at the Congressional Map has one district, which is within the normal range of what will typically happen if you weren't trying on one to two, so that's why it earns the green check mark according to this. It has what would happen if you weren't trying to favor or disfavor the community. Same is true for the Michigan House Map Hickory has eight such districts. For normal range is six to 10. But the Michigan Senate Map, Linden has only one district with that cut off. And the normal range would be two to four. So it has fewer districts than what would be... That will come up naturally, if you weren't trying. So the question is why, what was the commission trying to do? So let's get to next slide to look at a little bit at Linden.
0:44:36.9 JE: This is map Linden focused on the City of Detroit, its outer boundaries in black with Hamtramck and Highland Park inside. And the City of Detroit is split into eight districts that have the trip lines going far into Malcolm and Oakland county suburban areas. So you get a city with urban, mostly Black voters split into districts that are neither urban nor Black. There're suburban, mostly non-Black voters.
0:45:05.4 JE: So aside from what the courts ruled on this map about Voting Rights Act. If we look at the third criterion of communities of interest, if you think that the people of Detroit are a community of interest bound together by shared cultural, historical, or economic characteristics, then this map fails to reflect that community and questions why would the commission need to do this to the City of Detroit?
0:45:29.1 JE: I should point out that both Detroit commissioners argued against this map and voted against this map and now bring it back comments by Nancy and Edward. In those hearings, in the first round of hearings in the City of Detroit, there was fierce criticism of all the proposed maps, and the commission revised its Congressional and its House maps listening to the feedback of the public in those public hearing. But it did not revise the districts for Detroit for the Senate map. So maybe this is a lesson that where the commission listened in those public hearings and revised and fixed its maps, then it got better maps than in this one map where it didn't. That's it. Thank you, Matt.
0:46:21.9 MG: Thanks Jon. I now welcome David Daley, Senior Fellow at FairVote and author of 'Unrigged.' He'll compare Michigan's redistricting process with what other states have been up to, we'll find out where Michigan stands. David.
0:46:35.6 David Daley: Thank you, Matt. Thank you to the Ford School and IPPSR. Pleasure to be on such a distinguished panel. The state owes special thanks to Nancy and Voters Not Politicians, for not only winning a constitutional amendment draw that few thought possible but for its foresight and thoughtfulness in designing a commission that could do this demanding work with a collegial civic spirit, and that drew maps that have earned high grades for partisan fairness and strong marks for competitiveness. There'll certainly be litigation, and as we've already discussed this evening, and I'm sure we'll continue to, there will always be tension between racial equity and partisan balance competing interpretations of the Voting Rights Act, the meaning of a majority/minority seat that creates challenges given Michigan's geography in any system of single member districts.
0:47:14.9 DD: But as partisan gerrymandering hardens into partisan blood sport nationwide as maps from 2011 that proved to be the most enduring and effective gerrymanders in our nation's history, are replaced with those drawn with ever more surgical precision with federal courts now close to partisan gerrymandering claims with action in Congress looking unlikely at best, Michigan's elections ought to be meaningful with results that reflect the will of the people and make it possible for either side to win a majority of seats with a majority of votes other long-time swing states that lack commissions, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina can't say the same thing.
0:47:52.5 DD: Neither can states where changing demographics have turned them into state-wide battlegrounds, such as Georgia and Texas. But here's really where I think the framers of this amendment deserve real congratulations, several statehood commissions, even those who passed reform alongside you in 2018 and 2020 as citizens nationwide, frustrated with a decade of extreme maps stood up in non-partisan fashion and demanded change, had a decidedly rockier path, some broke down in bitter partisan enmity, some failed to produce maps at all, another was hijacked by partisans who carefully studied all the possible pressure points and spent seven years scheming to gain advantage, others were ignored or even sabotaged by the state legislature, whose entrenched power voters sought to dissolve.
0:48:40.0 DD: So can this be a model for the nation? Yes, I think it can. This structure, you have joins California and Iowa as legitimate gold standards. Of the other first-time commission states only Colorado can boast of an equally good process and outcome. Voters nationwide would be well served to adopt it, but you've asked me not to praise Michigan, but to give an overview of how well commissions worked in other states. And the answer is decidedly mixed. This redistricting cycle began with great hopes that the process would be fairer, smoother, less partisan in crucial states that adopted these reforms, and it didn't always work out that way. Redistricting after a while is messy, political, and deeply contentious, especially when just five seats separate the two parties in Congress. Yet, even states that adopted less effective reforms in Michigan appear likely to have better maps in place than they would if they had done nothing and kept partisan politicians in charge.
0:49:35.2 DD: I wanna touch on six states in the time that I have. Three of them quickly, three in greater detail. In Utah, a narrow majority approved a ballot initiative in 2018, that gave primary responsibility for map making to an independent commission, but in 2020, the legislature threatened to repeal it all together before ultimately reaching a compromise that amended it and moved the commission to an advisory role. How advisory? Well, in 2021, the legislature ignored all of the maps created by the independent commission and simply adopted their own, including a congressional map that eliminates the state's one competitive district by slicing Salt Lake County into four pieces and giving a tiny slice of the city to a larger overwhelmingly rural district in every one of them.
0:50:18.5 DD: Missouri, The Show-Me State, didn't even bother with the niceties of letting a commission advise, although 62% of voters there adopted a package of reforms in 2018 that would have had redistricting led by a non-partisan state demographer. The legislature moved immediately to override the new constitutional amendment and ultimately drove a successful statewide repeal that will keep lawmakers in charge again, this cycle. It remains to be seen what will happen in New York, where voters in 2014 approved a commission of 10 largely Democratic and Republican political appointees to work on maps together and create bipartisan consensus. That did not happen. The process broke down under all the predictable partisan gridlock, they ended up advancing separate Democratic and Republican maps to the legislature for approval. The legislature meanwhile lowered this threshold necessary to impose its own maps to 60% conveniently within the realm of Democratic majorities there.
0:51:16.6 DD: There's three clear lessons here. First, that legislatures and other partisans do not like it when the power that they have to draw these districts is taken away from them, and they feel comfortable enough, perhaps thanks to the districts that they drew themselves to counteract large, majorities of voters and undo these reforms. Two, is that how these commissions are structured, who gets to serve on them, who selects the members, how many commissioners there are, is of utmost importance when politicians can place proxies or loyalists on these bodies, they're all the more likely to replicate the same partisan gridlock or the same partisan behavior, we see from the legislatures. And three, you need a strong back-up plan in case the commission misfires and cannot reach consensus. This brings me to the three states I really wanna talk about which offer, perhaps the most direct contrast with the way you approached the commission in Michigan, but also lessons for best practices and warning signs to heed moving forward.
0:52:12.7 DD: I wanna start with Arizona, one of the oldest commissions established in 2000, the one that I'd suggest ceased to function in anything approaching the independent spirit in which it was established by voters this year. Arizona's commission includes just five members, so much fewer than yours. Two Republican appointees, two Democratic appointees, and one independent chair. Its members are vetted by a non-partisan in an ordinarily quiet board called the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments that board, and yes, it is CACA for short. Narrows down the applicants that legislative leaders can select as a partisan appointees and also winnows down the field of candidates for the independent chair to the final five. Republicans in Arizona, believing the Democrats had gotten the better of redistricting in 2010, began working as far back as 2013 to recruit candidates for the Republican appointees, but also for the independent chair. When the current Governor, Doug Ducey was elected in 2014, sleepy CACA was one of his top priorities. He stopped appointing any Democrats to the board, stacked it with loyalists, donors, and family members of Republican officials.
0:53:15.3 DD: Democrats believe the board members systematically eliminated their strongest candidates. What also looks clear is that the board stacked the five choices for independent chair, four had direct ties to the Republican party or conservative politics. It included a gun store owner who held a Trump rally outside his store in Flagstaff, as well as the eventual choice, a donor who had given six figures to Republican candidates that decade alone, including the governor and members of the delegation, and who gave up her party membership just ahead of the deadline to qualify as an independent. As a result, predictably, you had a series of three-two votes on this board that selected a partisan executive director, a partisan map maker, ultimately a three-two votes on the maps themselves.
0:54:01.6 DD: If Arizona teaches us how determined partisans can be to subvert and hijack commissions that draw these lines after they have been constituted, Virginia and Ohio offer lessons on how these commissions should be constituted in the first place, and how poorly they function when politicians themselves are allowed in the room. Both commissions were forged as compromises, under the conditions of those deals, politicians kept important seat at the table, which doomed the process from the start.
0:54:27.3 DD: Virginia lacks the initiative. Reformers achieved something really amazing, they needed to push this commission through the legislature, not once but twice, once under Republican control, then again, when Democrats took over in 2019, politicians in no other state had ever given up control of this process willingly. The groups that organized and made this an issue did a tremendous job, but without the ability to go to the voters, they needed the politicians to make a deal, and the price for that deal was a seat at the table. Virginia built a 16-person commission, eight Republicans and eight Democrats, half elected politicians, half citizens.
0:55:00.4 DD: Unlike Arizona, where the chair and one side can push a map through over the other side's objections and like Michigan, you all smartly built a super majority requirement to force consensus. A map in Virginia needed 12 votes to pass, including six of the politicians and six citizens, it didn't get close without any independence with so few politicians, no consensus could be found.
0:55:22.3 DD: The group couldn't agree on a map maker or a law firm, so each side brought in their own. Then they couldn't even decide which map to use as a starting point, that's when one of the citizen co-chairs walked out. At this point, she said, "I don't feel as though all members on the commission are sincere in their willingness to compromise and create fair maps for the Commonwealth of Virginia. I think this is not what citizens voted for when we started this process."
0:55:45.0 DD: The framers of this amendment saw this coming, the safety valve was the Virginia Supreme Court, they appointed two special masters, one from a list proposed by Democrats, one from a second list proposed by Republicans after the initial one was rejected for over-partisanship. When the commission broke down, they had a back-up plan in place, the court came through, did a good job, and those maps have gotten good grades.
0:56:13.7 DD: I've saved Ohio for last because I know how good it feels to be superior to Ohio in the state of Michigan, hail to the victors. In 2015, Ohio voters toughened redistricting rules for state legislative maps, in the 2018 legislators and redistricting reform was compromised on modest guard rails, that made it all the more difficult for the majority party to dominate and redraw congressional maps without bipartisan input.
0:56:35.8 DD: Not difficult enough though. Neither process worked as expected. The commission did not even propose a congressional map, it was kicked back to the legislature, they drew what could be a 13-2. Maybe even a 12-3 congressional map in Ohio. There was no compromise on the legislative map either. Democrats and Republicans proposed their own maps, but Republicans had the votes, they selected their own, drew themselves super majorities.
0:57:02.3 DD: The State Supreme Court threw out both of those maps last week. The evidence in these cases makes clear beyond all doubt that the General Assembly did not heed the clarion call sent by Ohio voters to stop political gerrymandering, one justice wrote in the majority of opinion. The Republican Chief Justice encouraged voters to go even further. Having now seen firsthand the current Ohio redistricting commission comprised of statewide elected officials and partisan legislatures, seemingly unwilling to put aside partisan concerns as directed by the people's vote, Ohioans may opt to pursue further constitutional amendment to replace the current commission with a truly independent non-partisan commission that more effectively distances the redistricting process from partisan politics. I would say that you all did a pretty good job of doing that in the first place. Thank you.
0:57:51.4 MG: Thanks, David. And thanks to the panel. As a reminder, the audience can submit questions to the YouTube and Facebook chats and on Twitter using the #Policytalks. Now, it's time for some questions that were submitted in advance. I'll start with Nancy. Nancy, you took us through the process that you envisioned, the folks that registered wanna hear how it went compared to that, where did it exceed expectations and where did it fall short? Is there anything we can learn to do better next time?
0:58:27.1 NW: Well, I think two areas where it really exceeded expectations was, first the public outreach and public participation, it really is astounding how much public participation we got it being the first ever citizen-led redistricting cycle we've ever had in this state, and much... So much credit goes to Edward and his team. The fact that we got 25,000 public comments to this commission, we were really shooting to equal the low level of participation that California saw in 2011, they got 22,000 comments and we were thinking, "Well, if we got a quarter of that because we have a quarter of California's participation, that would be a home run." And yet we got more than California, so that it just really is astounding.
0:59:22.4 NW: Something else too, is just the level of camaraderie and mutual respect that we saw between the different commissioners, they really never took a vote, I don't think on straight party lines, and that today, given really, this environment that we're in is just a testament to how much commitment they brought to the table and wanting to do the right thing for voters.
0:59:52.7 MG: And Edward, what are the biggest misconceptions that people still have about the work of the commission? Was it able to get its story out?
1:00:02.6 EI: Well, I think one of the biggest misconceptions is for people who might not have known the Apol standards. Souls that were stuck with the Apol standards I remember in particular Brock podcast where they thought the commission was bound. One of the commentators thought the commission was bound by the Apol standards. So they really didn't take the time to read the Constitution and notice that the seven ranked redistricting criteria number one, two, three, four, or five had nothing to do with reflecting county, city or municipal boundaries. That was the sixth ranked criteria, so I think that misinformation created some problems that we really hope were cleared up next time. A lot of misinformation was done, but I think that was more or less a part of a coordinated campaign to create confusion and row the basis of... I should say row their base, where there was a liberal conservative base with regards to Michigan's new redistricting process.
1:01:06.1 EI: So I'm really taking a look at how messaging is being done and just kind of getting ahead of it and providing ourselves an opportunity to go directly to the people. Once again, as you know, we did this in a pandemic and really didn't get to do our face-to-face outreach until May, but I really wanna give a shout out to not just the commissioners who are part of this and drove this process, but also our state wide partners, Voters Not Politicians, Charlie Beal and his team did an outstanding job. Michigan Nonprofit Association, led by Joan Gustafson and their partners from across the state that got the message out were very helpful as well with the League of Women Voters, and I mentioned API earlier, but there were just so many different groups... Access was really important, that did a group...
1:02:00.5 EI: The West Michigan Hispanic Business Center was great, the urban core in Grand Rapids was great. So many different organizations that we partner with, the Michigan Library Association, for getting the word out, Michigan NAACP for getting the word out across the state, the Rotary Clubs that allowed us to come in and do presentations and just the different organizations that just called and say, "Hey, we're an association of different things," The Road Association of Muskegon did something. The Hope retirees at Hope College out of Highland, just so many different groups came and asked for presentations, small, large or indifferent. It didn't matter, as long as they were Michiganders. Our commission was dedicated to making sure that they did the presentation. So we really wanna thank our partners for connecting us with these groups, so that we were able to not only increase awareness, but went to get... Obtain nearly 30,000 public comments for this process. So just thank you to our partners as well.
1:03:07.3 MG: Jon, we saw all those criteria that the commission had to meet, and some of them at times were in conflict, so what were the big decision points along the way that affected the final maps that we got?
1:03:21.3 JE: Hi Matt, yeah, so the criteria as Edward just mentioned they're ranked, so they shouldn't really come into conflict, in that, a top criteria are more important and should take precedence over lower criteria. So this was a little bit a matter of perception that for instance when the commission is breaking apart towns or cities well, if it has a higher order criteria to follow in order to do that, then if it's breaking them to achieve better partisan fairness, then that is fine and should not be perceived as a problem or a conflict. It's just the higher rank criteria prompts, the lower rank criteria, that's why... That's why breaking counties and cities, if it is for a reason, is entirely justified. I think the great attention that I perceived that was more controversial was how communities of interest played with partisan fairness, perhaps because communities of interest are difficult to define, but in some of the discussions about splitting Ann Arbor to bring some of the urban Ann Arbor onto rural Jackson County or splitting Flint or splitting Lansing, there was some... And the commission...
1:04:42.1 JE: The commissioners engaged in some back and forth or some discussion where some commissioners were arguing that the communities represented by this town should be kept together, and other commissioners argued that now they needed to be split for partisan fairness reasons. And that was difficult for me to see how is it not clear that the higher ranked criterion should take precedence without the... So that tension between the third and fourth criterion, I think was perhaps the one that was less clearly resolved in my view. Also, there is some perception that the criterion, respecting Voting Rights Act could conflict with partisan fairness, but I don't think that is the case. I think the commission's decision to split Detroit the way it did does not affect its goals on partisan fairness, what's done for its own intrinsic reasons and desire to split it that way.
1:05:42.1 MG: David, the commission seems to be getting more rave reviews nationally from the folks that watch this across the nation and compare us to other states, than they're getting locally a little bit more mixed reviews. Why do you think that is?
1:05:57.2 DD: It's a good question. I think it might have to do with just how abysmally this process went in so many other states. I didn't even talk about Colorado. Colorado had to remove its independent chair because they found Facebook posts that questioned the results of the 2020 election, and they realized that maybe this wasn't the person who they wanted as chair of the Independent Redistricting Commission drawing the states lines for the next decade. You see the partisanship that infected the process in Arizona from the beginning, you see just the absolute deadlock and the unwillingness to find any consensus in Virginia, you see just the politicians railroading over the will of the people in Utah and Missouri. And then you see what happened in Ohio, where once again, 70% of the voters tried to rein this process in and put some meaningful guard rails on it, and the politicians just ran right over it.
1:07:06.8 DD: So I think from a national perspective, you look at Michigan and you see a process that was collegial, that is a civic experiment that worked. That reasonable lines, when you look at competitiveness and partisan fairness and communities of interest and the like from all of the amazing non-partisan academic groups around the country that are looking at this. And from a national perspective, I think it's really easy to say, well, this is the real success story of this cycle, I imagine locally, when you live in these districts and when you see the decisions and how they affect your specific communities, you have a different perspective on it from the national journalists might have.
1:08:05.3 DD: And certainly, I think, as Edward talked about, that there's been a lot of base riling on both sides of this, a lot of misunderstanding, perhaps some of it intentionally ginned up, and now, certainly once again, I think that there are some Republicans who are threatening litigation, there's civil rights groups that are frustrated, and so that keeps it in the headlines. But I think it's important to really remember, if you look at how these commissions worked nationwide and the results you have, you're going to have meaningful elections in Michigan for the next 10 years, a lot of other states can't say that. And I don't think you could say it in Michigan over the course of the last 10 years.
1:08:57.6 MG: So we got the most questions by far about Voting Rights Act compliance and the map borders in Detroit, so I wanna spend a little bit of time on this. Nancy, there's a perception among some questioners that the commission ignored feedback from Detroit residents in particular about African-American representation, so how would you sort of evaluate that process, what did they hear and did they respond to it? Oh, you're muted.
1:09:34.6 NW: Yeah, the Voting Rights Act is so complex? Right, and I think the commission really, I could see that it was trying to take into account all of the perspectives that people had, they held so many sessions, they would open every single meeting with public comment. I understand at the same time that there are very, real concerns that residents in Detroit had, and one of the things that we wanted to advocate for as Voters Not Politicians was this not just that you got to say your piece, but also that you were... Had some kind of show... Showing from the commission that they heard you and if the decision was to not take some suggestions or go a different way, that people would understand why that decision was made.
1:10:39.8 NW: So on the one hand, I think they really did... The commission really did try to take into account as much public comment as possible, but one of the things that we would like to see for the next cycle, for example, is just more of the back and forth from the commission to let people know on an ongoing basis that their interests are, they're being taken into account, even if the commission is deciding to go in a different direction, I think that would make a world of difference.
1:11:15.9 MG: Edward, there's also a perception among some of the commenters that the commission decided on its voting rights, compliance strategy in order to achieve partisan fairness, that is they didn't give us majority African-American districts because they were trying to get to partisan fairness, but can you take us through... It seems like they were made... Those decisions were made independently, so how did the commission get to its Voting Rights Act strategy and did it have anything to do with the partisan fairness?
1:11:50.7 EI: Well, first and foremost, as you know we're under pending litigation exactly with regards to that topic, so I really have no comment Matt, with regards to that, I will stipulate that the commission did follow the seven rank... Rank registering criteria as outlined in the Constitution. That's all I can say.
1:12:13.3 MG: Okay, let me... Sounds good. So yes, we're not in the business of predicting lawsuits or commenting on them, but Jon, maybe you can just take us through, how did the commission get to these 40%, 45% numbers, and what's the argument in favor of them for enhancing African-American representation?
1:12:29.1 JE: Since I don't work for the commission and I'm not part of the lawsuit, I can opinionate more freely than Edward. So this made it easier because the commission actually put out... Put its briefing today... There's an article about what the commission argued on the Detroit Free Press by Clara Hendrickson just today, but even based on arguments before they put out memos by their voting rights consultant.
1:12:58.2 JE: So the idea that the commission was arguing is that they're fighting against what happened before, where African-American voters were packed all together in very few districts where they have huge majorities, they win by a landslide, and then they have no influence in any other district. That's bad. And this commission on voting rights council was pushing very hard not to do that, and they definitely did not do that, so then instead of that, they argued to create as many districts with quite a high share of Black voters, so they will have influence in as many as districts as possible. But the way to have influence in most possible districts is not to have a majority on any of them, but to have lots of districts, that there are about 40%, 45%, range 35% to 45% range. That's roughly what the... That's written in their memos by Bruce Adelson, the counsel for Voting Rights Act, and they have been fairly public on that. The idea is, if it works, if it's enough to have 40% African-American in the district, for the will of African-Americans to carry the day, then they'll have more influence than ever before, so that's the upside, and that's what the commission was doing. The concern is that there is no data to...
1:14:25.0 JE: And the commission's own memos said that there is no data to say with any confidence that 40% is enough to win a primary in the Democratic... On the Democratic side. There's more confidence that they would win a general election, but if you have a Democrat supported by Black voters facing a Democrat supported by White voters in a Democratic primary, say Whitmer versus someone that the Black community likes better than Whitmer hypothetically next time, then we're not confident that that would work. So that's the fear is not... There is also no evidence that the commission is wrong, but the commission is taking a best guess that 40% is good enough and runing with it. An argument that this is probably good enough and if so, it will be great because there'll be many more districts than ever before, and if the court listened to what the plaintiffs say, would actually reduce the number of districts in which Black voters have a say. That's true, if the commission is right in its guess, that 40% is enough.
1:15:31.6 MG: And David give us some of the national context here, how has redistricting been important for African-American representation, but also how has race been used sometimes to enable gerrymandering?
1:15:44.4 DD: Yes, and I think that that is going to play out once again this cycle, right? The Voting Rights Act was reauthorized in 1982, and it establishes this condition that when it's possible to draw a majority minority seat, states are asked to do so, and this has not exactly been defined, it's not exactly been put out as majority minority equals 50% plus one or it equals 75%, or it equals 40%. And the first redistricting cycle in which this went into effect is the 1990-1991 cycle. And what you saw happen across the South that year is kind of fascinating. You had two groups across the South that had been largely kept out of power by White Democrats and those groups were Black Democrats and Republicans, and they worked together. It was called the unholy alliance in many ways. In states like North Carolina and Georgia, you had Republican donors buying computer software for civil rights groups so that they could draw their own districts, and it worked to the advantage of Black voters across the South, but also Republicans, because as you drew these packed districts with most of the Black voters, who also happen to be most of the Democratic voters, you bleached all of the surrounding districts, a whiter, more conservative, more Republican.
1:17:32.5 DD: And so in 1994, for example, you have the largest Congressional Black caucus since reconstruction, but you also have the first Republican Congress in about 50 years, and the two certainly go hand in hand. There are these two different sets of case law on gerrymandering as well. You have case law on racial gerrymandering and case law on partisan gerrymandering. And racial gerrymandering is a no-go in the courts still, but the courts have allowed a partisan gerrymandering, and indeed in 2019, the Supreme Court closed the federal courts to these claims as a non-justiceable political issue. So what we have been seeing lately are politicians who have been super willing to draw districts that do pack a lot of Black voters together, but they call them partisan gerrymanders. This happened certainly in North Carolina. They came right out and admitted. I'm trying to draw a 10:3 partisan gerrymander, because I think that's the best thing for the state of North Carolina. But they were also... And all of this came out in the court data, as their emails and draft maps that were shown, they were also trying to get away with a racial gerrymander and so there's tension there as well.
1:19:02.8 MG: So unfortunately, we only have 10 minutes or so left, so hopefully we can answer some of the questions coming in as we're talking, maybe in more of a lightning round, so hopefully we can at least dispel some worries. So Nancy, there's ongoing lawsuits, is that gonna disrupt either the 2022 election or the implementation of these maps?
1:19:28.5 NW: So there's always lawsuits against maps. I think California's commission in 2011 faced something like six lawsuits. They can take years to resolve, but the amendments requires, the amendment has these maps that were just adopted by the commission go into effect by themselves, 60 days after adoption. So those maps are going to be the Michigan law, as of February 26, and that means that they will be used for Michigan's 2022 elections and beyond. And again, like I said, if at some point there is gonna be a lawsuit that says more work on these maps need to be done, then at that point, that work will go back to the commission. So whatever happens with this litigation, I will say though that I can't help but saying this that because the redistricting commission is... You have to have a decision maker, and because all of these maps, there's just so much at stake politically that there's always gonna be challenges, for example, the threat by the Republican party who really has been suing us and this amendment since 2018, there's gonna be lawsuits. But the presumption is going to be with the commission that these maps are valid, and that is because we have a process that is independent, that there are these strict criteria, and there's gotta be a way for us as a state to have a mechanism for drawing maps that are not gerrymandered by politicians.
1:21:14.0 NW: So I guess that's my long way of saying, no, these are the law of the land. They're gonna be, in effect for 2022, barring some very surprising outcomes in the court.
1:21:25.1 EI: Matt, I think it's really important to emphasize that these maps were passed by Republicans, Democrats and Independents. There's this misconception that this is a left-wing group that got started. Let's be clear, more than 61% of Michiganders, Democrats, Republicans, neither Democrats nor Republicans passed his proposal number one. Then number two, the way the Constitution is set up, in order for those maps to be adopted, you had to have a minimum of two Republicans, a minimum of... Who are affiliated with Republicans, a minimum of two people affiliated with the Democrats and a minimum who were neither Democrats or Republicans. That gets you to six, there's 13 people on the commission plus one more. If you did not reach that minimum, the maps would not pass even if it was a majority. So to sit up here and try to denigrate the commission and try to denigrate the bipartisan effort or how this was done, it's just really ludicrous and it's just adding... How can I say, insult or a thwart to democracy. And my biggest concern that I've shared with the commission is we've had some insurrectionists on both sides who are not telling the true story about this, and the reason why this is so important, I might call it the three-legged stool of democracy.
1:22:53.7 EI: We have the census, we have voting, and we have redistricting, and obviously redistricting is the most complex, but because of Jon, Nancy, and David, they've made it better tonight, and because of groups like yours, Matt, and Tom Ivacko's, they've also made it better with regards to the process. But I really, really wanna make sure this message is clear, this was done initially through a bipartisan effort, this was done through a bipart effort as it relates to voting. And that just needs to be clear to clear up this miscommunication, and I would say hidden agendas of others who would like to be insurrectionists to the process.
1:23:36.0 MG: That was actually my biggest surprise on the commission is that there was plenty of conflict at times, but it really did not break down along partisan lines, and that isn't true at all of commissions around the country, so that really was a surprise. Jon, we got a few questions about your measures, and a couple of people just said, "Couldn't the computers just do it alone?" So give us a sort of a sense of where we have to trust this as an individual process and what can be added by comparing it to the computer-drawn maps.
1:24:10.4 JE: I love computers and computer-drawn maps, but no, it cannot be done just by computers, because you have to feed into the computer what's the definition of a community of interest, I think drawing good maps is a science but it's also an art. It's at the intersection of the two and it needs human input. So those easy solutions, just draw polygons with an algorithm, those polygons don't respect communities of interest, and that's part of the constitution, so I'm all in favor of mathematical approaches. I teach them as a part of my job, but that's a tool. In the end, you need human input and you need to use math and you need to use the computers to help humans draw maps. What computers can do is they can generate a million maps under some instructions that you can compare, "Well, if I weren't trying to do something, this is what would happen." So it offers some sort of an outside benchmark, and that is what the Ohio court used of, "Well, if you weren't trying to do anything about parties, this is how many Democrats would get elected."
1:25:13.8 JE: "With the maps you drew, there are far fewer. So this seems like you're trying to be harmful to Democrats." That's how you can use the computer maps, because the computers are only trying to do whatever you put in the algorithm, so you put an algorithm that says, "Hey, try to equalize population and nothing else," they'll generate you a million maps and... And then you can compare yours and say, "Well, my maps look very different, why?" And you can say, "Well, because I was also trying to comply with Voting Rights Act, or I was also trying to respect this community along the lake, but there has to be a reason as to why your maps don't look like the computer ones, and the reason has to be a good one. My complaint about Linden was that I don't see a good reason for why we have fewer districts with Black representation, Black share at 45%. If there were a good reason, then great... But you cannot... You have to use... You can use the tool of computers, but you cannot delegate on computers.
1:26:11.2 MG: David, we also have some folks that wanna take this national, so how do we broaden the approach, but also what do you learn about what can be improved from Michigan approach if somebody wants to adopt it elsewhere?
1:26:25.1 DD: Well, I'd start right there with what Jon was just talking about. I think that if you are... If you are in a state with a commission or without a commission, one terrific way to get a check on your law makers is to use the computer technology that is available to have these non-partisan groups draw ensembles of thousands or millions of maps and force the politicians to compare what they have done to a neutral suite and to see if it's an outlier or not. Now, it is really, really difficult to get politicians to let go of this process.
1:27:11.6 DD: States that do not have the ballot initiative have had a really difficult time with it. States that do have the ballot initiative have been seeing all kinds of complications added to that, states making it harder and harder to get onto the ballot. So I'm not sure I see a lot of national possibility, but what I would say is this, that... And this goes for all of you in Michigan as well as all of the other states. Perhaps the most important thing to understand once you've got a commission in place is that you have to continue to be involved in the process, you can't simply say, we fixed that and then wash our hands of it, you've always gonna have politicians who are trying to worm their way in at whatever pressure point they can, who are trying to do whatever possible to try to gain some kind of influence over this process, because it's so crucial to them. The coalitions that win these big victories have got to stay together and stay active.
1:28:23.7 MG: Thanks and just one last question for Nancy is, we had some questions about transparency, I know we had all these public hearings, but we also have the controversy, of course, over the closed door session. So did we learn anything from that, was there any sense that that actually changed the outcome in any way? Or what can we do next time?
1:28:43.2 NW: Well, I think we learned a lot from that. We learned that, first of all, ultimate transparency, that is the thing that keeps this process safe, so what we had was we had great public... We had so many eyes on this process and what's happening then, what we saw was the public demanding ultimate transparency from this public body. That's one of the things that's so exciting about us having this independent commission and this news process is like we saw people demanding from this commission what we really have never gotten and should be demanding from government in general in this state. So I saw, yes, the commission, I think... And we said at the time, made the wrong decision to go behind closed doors, but yet the process of holding them transparent and having the public asks these questions, and then going to court and getting the release of those VRA memos, that is kind of the process working the way it was designed to. And of course what we learned also was that there were... There was this legal opinion by the commission's own attorneys that these attorney memos were protected and that, it's a legitimate position that was ultimately rejected by the Michigan States Supreme Court. So that issue is now settled for our state, and we will have that... The next commission will know that for the next cycle.
1:30:03.3 MG: Well, that's all the time we have for tonight. Thanks so much for attending and asking great questions. Thanks to the panelists for their remarks and your important roles in the process, and thanks again to our co-sponsors, the Ford School, CLOSUP, IPPSR, Voters Not Politicians, and Detroit Public Television, and thank you all for attending. Please check out the great resources from our sponsoring and hosting organizations, all linked at closup.umich.edu along with a video from tonight. And please remember to fill out the evaluation of Michigan's new redistricting process at that link. We thank you for your questions, your comments, and your participation. Thanks for taking this journey with us. Here is hoping Michigan's new maps will fairly represent our state and make Michigan proud.