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Opinion | Michigan redistricting panel isn’t the transparent group promised

In 2018, Michigan voters adopted Proposal 2, which promised an independent commission to end partisan manipulation of our political maps. Voters Not Politicians, the group behind the initiative, told us the commission was meant to ensure fair representation for all, promising an impartial redistricting process free from unfair map drawing, known as gerrymandering. 

However, recent revelations have shattered that promise, exposing a disturbing narrative of partisan influence, self-seeking and manipulation.

Rep. Ann Bollin headshot
Republican Rep. Ann Bollin represents Michigan’s 49th House District, which spans portions of Livingston and western Oakland counties. Prior to serving in the Legislature, Bollin served for 16 years as Brighton Township Clerk.

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, conceived as a symbol of fairness, now stands tainted by troubling news. Two of its members, entrusted with redrawing political districts, have been living outside Michigan. While retaining their titles and continuing to collect their salaries as commissioners, they have both lived in other states for more than a year, severing ties with the consequences of their district-drawing decisions. Only recently did each of these commissioners resign after their situations became public knowledge. 

In yet another, more frustrating breach of public trust, disturbing allegations have emerged regarding Commissioner Anthony Eid’s conduct, calling into question the commission’s impartiality. Claims that Eid, who ran as an independent, collaborated with specific Democratic candidates and personal allies to draw favorable districts before the 2022 election deeply undermine the credibility of the commission. His affiliations and past partisan support raise serious doubts about his ability to act independently.

This isn’t what Michigan voted for. The mandate was clear: an independent commission, free from political influence, working transparently for fair representation. Instead, we see a process tainted by partisanship and individuals focused more on personal agendas than the democratic rights of Michigan voters.

Transparency has been absent throughout the entire process. Voters Not Politicians left significant gaps in the language, leaving room for ambiguity and exploitation. A more rigorous vetting process for commissioners is essential, probing deeper to uncover potential partisan connections and ensuring future members embody true independence.

As we navigate these troubling revelations, demanding accountability and transparency from the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission is imperative. We must conduct a comprehensive review of its practices and investigate all allegations of impropriety. 

Closing loopholes to make sure commissioners are Michigan residents is just one of many reforms that needs to be implemented immediately as the commission begins to redo its work in the face of a lawsuit over voting rights violations.

Looking ahead to the redistricting cycle after the 2030 census, we must find ways to improve the process of selecting commissioners to ensure true independence and reinforce a commitment to representing Michigan residents. 

The people of Michigan voted for a fair, transparent and genuinely independent redistricting process. They deserve one. Clarity, openness, and accountability are key to preventing a repeat of the current chaos.

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