Amid appeal, Benson readies for district redraw


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With everything else going on in Lansing, the matter of a potential special election next year and legislative districts being redrawn this year isn’t getting a lot of attention — even though it could be a big issue going forward.

It will be up to the Michigan Supreme Court to decide whether new districts for the U.S. House, state Senate and state House have to be drawn in time for a special election. That means the filing deadline would be in less than a year, so the clock is ticking.

A lower court ruled in April that Republicans who drew the district lines after the 2010 census did so in a manner unfair to Democrats. If the lower court’s ruling stands after a GOP appeal, another group of Republicans would have to redraw the lines for a single election and a special election for the state Senate. That could create a time crunch for the Legislature.

“Frankly, that’s one of the reason I tried earlier to settle the case so we could forward with whatever the resolution is but that said here we are,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, said Tuesday during a visit to Grand Rapids.

Benson said that while the court considers, she stands ready to work with the Legislature to redraw those lines. That process can be time-consuming and if there is an election with new districts, it will have to be done with unusual speed.

No matter what happens in this court case, it is absolutely certain that districts will be drawn after the 2020 census for the 2022 election. That will be done with a new commission as approved by voters last year.

Benson says you can follow the implementation process on her website and be part of it.

“Coming soon in just a few months, we’ll be putting out our application for the commission,” she said. “Anyone who is a registered voter and meets certain basic levels of qualifications is eligible to apply and potentially serve on the commission.”

Benson said the selection process for that commission will begin in June 2020.

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