Michigan Agrees to Redraw 11 State House Districts

(CN) – Michigan will redraw 11 state House districts as part of a settlement with the League of Women Voters over claims of partisan gerrymandering by Republican lawmakers, a state official said Friday.

In December 2017, the League of Women Voters and 11 Democratic voters sued then-Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican, claiming GOP lawmakers unconstitutionally altered the state’s election map after the 2010 census.

The voters claimed Michigan’s voter map “intentionally places them in voting districts that reduce or eliminate the power of their votes.”

The 2011 redistricting process was allegedly “a particularly egregious” example of partisan gerrymandering, with the plans being “developed in a private, secret process by Republican consultants, legislative staff and legislators to the exclusion of Democrats and the public,” according to the complaint.

Secretary Johnson was succeeded by Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, who took office Jan. 1.

Working swiftly, Secretary Benson announced Friday that she reached an agreement with the League of Women Voters to settle its constitutional claims challenging the 2011 redistricting.

As part of the settlement, the state acknowledged that 11 of the 110 Michigan House of Representatives districts were drawn in a manner that violates the U.S. Constitution. These districts will be redrawn in time for the 2020 election using census data from 2010.

The 11 state House districts that will be redrawn under the agreement are the 24th, 32nd, 51st, 55th, 60th, 63rd, 76th, 91st, 92nd, 94th and 95th districts.

In exchange, the voting rights group agreed to drop all its claims, including its challenges to the constitutionality of the Michigan Senate and congressional districts.

“I believe today’s settlement strikes a balance between recognizing the unconstitutionality of the 2011 districting maps while reaching a remedy that is limited in scope and impact given the length of time these districts have been in place,” Secretary Benson said in a statement.

She continued, “Because the congressional and state Senate maps will not be changed, and the state House map only minimally changed, the remedy we have proposed to the court is one that is likely more limited in scope than that which could have emerged from a trial that the state could likely lose. It strikes an important balance between limiting disruption to the current maps while acknowledging the harm done to voters through attempts to rig the outcomes of elections through partisan gerrymandering.”

U.S. District Judges Eric Clay, Denise Page Hood and Gordon Quist of the Eastern District of Michigan will rule on the consent decree.

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