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Watch redistricting process carefully

With the 2020 census done and data wizards crunching numbers as we speak, the time is almost near for the decennial redrawing of congressional and legislative districts that can determine which political party maintains control of state and federal government.

According to the terms of both the state and federal constitutions, political districts are drafted so each congressperson and each state representative and state senator represents similar numbers of people.

For years in Michigan, those districts were drawn by whichever political party held the majority in the legislature, allowing opportunistic politicians to carve up the state map in a way that divided up regions populated by the other party, making it at least very hard — if not impossible — for the other party to win enough seats to gain control. That’s called gerrymandering.

This year, for the first time, Michigan’s districts will instead be drawn not by lawmakers but by a bipartisan commission of residents from throughout the state. The commission, created by a 2018 voter referendum and made up of randomly selected voters, is meant to make the process fairer and less political.

The commission is expected to get to work once census data is released later this year and wrap up the new maps by year’s end. Voters will elect lawmakers to those new districts beginning in the 2022 race.

We urge all Michiganders to watch that process carefully, to participate in town halls and share their ideas about how the districts should be drawn. It is a grand experiment, to give more power over politicians to the people, and it’s up to each of us to make sure it works the way it’s supposed to.

— Alpena News

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