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Application process starts for state redistricting commission

Michigan Congressional Districts

People can now apply to be on the state's new 13-member Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced the launch of the online application process Thursday.

Last November, the voters approved the new Independent Redistricting Commission. It will draw the state’s political district lines starting after the 2020 election.

“I’m thrilled to see this idea that was of, by, and for the people really take flight,” said Voters Not Politicians Executive Director, Nancy Wang. That’s the group that was behind the ballot measure.

The commission will be made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and five Independents. They’ll be chosen in stages.

First a random drawing will narrow the pool down to 200. Then the leaders in both parties of the House and Senate each get to strike up to five applicants. Then, the final 13 will be chosen from that pool, again, by random selection.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said her office will launch a commercial and use other methods to get the word out to people to apply.

“Really my goal is not just quantity, but also representation throughout the state,” she told reporters. “Making sure that citizens in every corner of the state, from the Upper Peninsula to Hillsdale, to Grand Rapids to Detroit feel that they want to apply and be a part of this.”

There are ongoing lawsuits challenging the legality of the commission, but Benson said she’s not concerned.

“Because I believe that we’re solid in our legal grounding, and I believe that our responsibility is to further the will of the people,” she said. “That was very clear when they spoke last November to amend their constitution.”

Benson says the state will also mail tens of thousands of applications to voters inviting them to apply for the commission. The deadline to apply is June 1st of next year. Members will be chosen by fall of 2020.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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