LANSING, Mich. — The independent group tasked with drawing new voting maps for Michigan held a public comment session in Lansing Thursday, giving the public an opportunity to voice their opinions and make suggestions on the proposed drafts before they are put in place for upcoming elections.
And one of the messages the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission heard was that the proposed maps would hurt minority representation in the state.
“As a black male that’s a part of this voting system when we look at how districts are being drawn it’s giving a lot of power to the rural areas," said Karrington Kelsey, a Lansing resident and attendee. "The way redlining has worked is that Black and brown people don’t tend to live out in the countryside so we’re not being equitably represented.”
Once approved, the map drafts will be used in elections for the next 10 years. How the districts are drawn plays a major role in which political party gets elected.
"I have a couple critiques of the maps that I've seen so far," Kelsey said. " In some of the districts they're trying to split up the blue vote to make the regions more sparse but they're actually dispersing a lot of the blue vote in areas where Black and brown people live, so they're losing power when they choose to vote."
Community leaders across the state have voiced concerns over Black representation in the new maps.
"Looking at the recent things that came out with the districts now being split up into six along with the fact that they're taking a portion of Lansing and moving it into Eaton County, we're really not that happy about," said Dale Copeage, president of the Lansing branch of the NAACP. "We feel that that's a form of gerrymandering and that the commission should be re-looking at that and change it."
Rebecca Szetela, one of the commissioners said that the group will consider the suggestions laid out on Thursday.
"I would say we've heard from quite a few people who want to see us make changes to the Lansing area maps," she said. "So, we will take that feedback back and take a look at it."
The redistricting commission is holding multiple in-person public comment sessions and they encourage anyone with a suggestion or comment to submit it online, in-person or over the phone.
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