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Stateside Podcast: Redistricting, race, and Michigan’s political future

Sign with "vote here" in black text and "City of Ann Arbor" below it in green text. It is on a patch of grass in front of a sidewalk
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio
For the first time, the maps that dictate the state's political districts have been chosen by an independent commission, rather than a political party.

There’s no crystal ball when it comes to Michigan’s political future. But, now, there are maps. A majority of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted last Friday to approve three maps that redraw political boundaries around the state, each with its own botanical nickname.

“The Chestnut for the congressional map, the Linden for the Michigan Senate map, and the Hickory map for the Michigan House," explained Report for America fellow Clara Hendrickson, who covered the vote for the Detroit Free Press.

The vote on these three maps came after months of sometimes contentious discussion and public feedback. It was the first time civilians—rather than political parties—have been in charge of drawing congressional and legislative districts. 

And while Hendrickson said the actual voting process was relatively smooth, there is already pushback on the way lines were drawn in and around Detroit. A group of current and former lawmakers is filing a lawsuit alleging that the maps dilute the power of Black voters and violate the Voting Rights Act.

State Sen. Adam Hollier agrees with that argument. He told Stateside Monday that while the independent commission certainly improved the process of redistricting, there are some major problems with the maps it approved.

“No one would look at the way the city of Detroit, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb County was drawn, and not understand that it was done for a specific reason, and that specific reason was to crack black communities. And that's unacceptable," Hollier said.

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Stateside’s theme music is by 14KT.

Additional music byBlue Dot Sessions.

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April Van Buren is a producer for <i>Stateside</i>. She produces interviews for air as well as web and social media content for the show.