GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The grassroots group that backed the creation of an independent commission to redraw lines for congressional and state legislative districts is praising the panel’s work, though it has been slowed by pandemic side-effects and some commissioners now face criticism.
The commission was created under a constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters in 2018. The executive director of Voters Not Politicians, the group that backed the ballot proposal, on Thursday said “that we really are witnessing history.”
“This is what the people voted to put in place,” Nancy Wang said.
The process has not been without its challenges. The group is almost certainly not going to be able to make deadlines for map, partially because final census data was delayed. Recently, criticism of at least two of the commissioners who were selected as independents has created questions for some about the true independence of the process.
Wang said the criticism of two of those unaffiliated commissioners supporting liberal candidates and causes is coming from what she called conservative sources.
“It doesn’t escape us that these two commissioners that have been kind of outspoken and that have been, you know, really doing their best, giving hours of their life just like all the other commissioners, were singled out,” Wang said. “And think perhaps there’s an undercurrent that they couldn’t be impartial. So I would have like the coverage to be more like, OK, this is the process that’s set up. It’s perfectly fine to like look at each commissioner; well then, let’s look at each commissioner.”
The commission is comprised of four individuals who aligned with but do not represent the Republican party, four with the Democratic party and five independents. The requirements in the constitutional amendment go to great lengths to ban those with political activity in the past six years from being on the body.