Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission
In 2018, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment to transfer responsibility for redistricting away from the legislature and into the hands of a group of citizens - the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission or MICRC. The effort was led by Voters Not Politicians, an independent group dedicated to engaging citizens in the political process and returning power to the people.
2020/2021 was the first redistricting cycle where that process went into action - four republicans, four democrats, and five independents were selected to draw district lines for the entire state of Michigan. They were tasked with considering federal restrictions like the Voting Rights Act, new constitutional characteristics like Communities of Interest, and general public feedback.
Evaluating VNP's redistricting programming
In winter/spring 2022, I was an intern with Voters Not Politicians - I was hired to help them evaluate their redistricting programming for Communities of Interest (COI) and the public in general. COIs are described in the Michigan constitution as groups that "share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests." As part of their redistricting efforts, VNP set out to engage with underrepresented COIs, in the hopes that they would be able to support redistricting maps that gave them a bigger voice in local, state, and national politics. Together, we conducted a series of interviews with COI leaders that VNP partnered with across the state and combined these with focus groups and surveys of VNP volunteers. Combining these datasets, we developed several deliverables, including:
A final report outlining the lessons learned and best practices in engaging COIs and conducting public education on redistricting.
A set of recommendations for the MICRC to consider in redesigning their procedures for future redistricting commissions.
Executive summaries of the findings for dissemination
I will share these deliverable here as they become available. In the meantime, here's an interview from my time with the VNP team: https://votersnotpoliticians.com/our-evaluation-program-the-um-fellow-thats-helping-us-put-it-all-together/