Proposed Michigan redistricting deal would lead to new map

Published 01-25-2019

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - At least 11 of Michigan's 110 House districts would be redrawn for the 2020 election under a proposed legal settlement announced Friday by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat who said the deal would fix "egregious" examples of partisan gerrymandering.

As part of her agreement with Democrats who sued, congressional and state Senate seats would stay intact. The Republican-led Legislature, which in 2011 drew the maps that are in question, would put in place new lines for 11 state House districts - subject to court approval. The number of newly cast seats could be higher, though, because of the impact on adjacent districts.

Benson, the state's top election official, said there is "significant evidence" that the maps are unconstitutional.

"I believe today's settlement proposal strikes a balance between recognizing the unconstitutionality of the 2011 districting maps while also reaching a remedy that is limited in scope and impact, given the length of time that these districts have been in place," she said.

The 2017 lawsuit, brought by the League of Women Voters and 11 Democrats, initially challenged all 14 congressional districts, 110 House districts and 38 Senate districts - before the plaintiffs later narrowed the list to 34. Eleven of the 15 House districts in question would be impacted. They are in Kent, Macomb, St. Clair, Genesee, Oakland, Washtenaw, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Muskegon and Saginaw counties.

Republicans, who have criticized Benson since she announced last week her intention to settle, said Friday that the deal is an attempt by Benson and Democrats to "steal" the House in 2020. The GOP has a 58-52 edge now.

"The Democrats know it will be nearly impossible to redraw these eleven districts without effecting countless others causing electoral chaos," said state GOP spokesman Tony Zammit. "Worse yet, outdated 10-year-old data will be utilized to draw the new lines which will not accurately reflect the demographics of our state."

Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment creating an independent commission to handle redistricting after the 2020 Census.

"The Democrats know it will be nearly impossible to redraw these eleven districts without effecting countless others causing electoral chaos," said state GOP spokesman Tony Zammit. "Worse yet, outdated 10-year-old data will be utilized to draw the new lines which will not accurately reflect the demographics of our state."

Voters in November approved a constitutional amendment creating an independent commission to handle redistricting after the 2020 Census.

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