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Michigan redistricting: Court finds new Detroit maps better for Black voters

woman looking at maps
An attendee at a redistricting public hearing in Detroit considers several options for new metro Detroit state House districts. Seven existing House districts were scrapped by a federal court, where judges determined the commission improperly used racial data to draw maps. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)
  • Federal court finds “no basis to reject” redrawn state House districts in metro Detroit
  • Redrawing process came after metro Detroit voters successfully argued the commission improperly used racial data to draw maps
  • New map adheres more closely to county and municipal boundaries and increases number of majority-Black districts

New Detroit-area state House districts redrawn by Michigan’s citizen redistricting commission are fairer to Black voters and will take effect in time for this year’s elections, a federal court ruled Wednesday.

In a new opinion, a federal three-judge panel that rebuked the commission’s original work in several metro Detroit political districts determined there was “no basis to reject” the commission’s revised map, dubbed “Motown Sound FC E1.”

The new map “departs significantly” from the original plan, the court found, adhering more closely to county and municipal boundaries and increasing the number of majority-Black districts.


Edward Woods III, the commission’s executive director, in a statement thanked the public for providing input on the redrawn map options. The “Motown Sound” map commissioners submitted to the court was the favorite map of many Detroit residents and advocacy groups. 

“Despite doubts and concerns raised, the Commission demonstrated once again that it could focus on its purpose to draw fair maps with citizen input,” Woods said. 


In the original map, nine districts containing portions of Detroit extend well into the northern suburbs. Detroiters contended those districts diluted their vote by extending from the city far into suburbs. 

The proposed drafts remedy that by generally clustering districts in the city, creating the possibility of more Detroit residents and Black elected officials in the Legislature in future sessions. 

No incumbent lawmakers would have to move or run against a fellow lawmaker under the new map — an outcome the commission said was coincidental, but one that Detroit-area voters suing the commission argued was statistically rare.  

During the process, several commissioners said they paid no attention to where sitting lawmakers lived while they worked to comply with the court order. 

Judges dismissed concerns from plaintiffs that the latest map was an “incumbency protection plan” that would disenfranchise Black residents into perpetuity, noting that argument “assumes a degree of passivity among Detroit-area voters that finds little support in the record.” 

“The record shows an energized electorate that was profoundly unhappy with the racial gerrymander,” the opinion reads. “And in six of the seven districts at issue here, African-American voters will have markedly more power to elect their candidate of choice in 2024 than they did in 2022.” 

The latest configuration, largely drawn without the use of racial data, also boosts Black majorities in areas where critics of the redistricting process said commissioners initially kept the Black voting age population artificially low. 

According to data provided by the commission, 11 Detroit-area districts would have majority-Black voting age populations in primary election contests under the new map. 


Commission data indicates the state’s partisan balance wouldn’t change much under the proposed configuration, giving Democrats an edge in 60 of the state’s 110 House seats. 

A Bridge Michigan analysis of several draft maps considered by the commission found the modified districts generally lean Democratic, but some by significantly smaller margins, which could jeopardize the narrow majority Democrats currently hold in the chamber.

Commissioners aren’t done with their work yet — six state Senate districts also thrown out by the court will be dealt with later this spring.

Districts that will see changes under the new map include:

  • House District 1, currently represented by Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit
  • House District 2, currently represented by Rep. Tullio Liberati, D-Allen Park
  • House District 3, currently represented by Rep. Alabas Farhat, D-Dearborn
  • House District 4, currently represented by Rep. Karen Whitsett, D-Detroit
  • House District 5, currently represented by Rep. Natalie Price, D-Berkley
  • House District 6, currently represented by Rep. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park
  • House District 7, currently represented by Rep. Helena Scott, D-Detroit
  • House District 8, currently represented by Rep. Mike McFall, D-Hazel Park
  • House District 9, currently represented by Rep. Abraham Aiyash, D-Hamtramck
  • House District 10, currently represented by House Speaker Joe Tate, D-Detroit
  • House District 11, currently represented by Rep. Veronica Paiz, D-Harper Woods
  • House District 12, currently represented by Rep. Kimberly Edwards, D-Eastpointe
  • House District 13, currently vacant
  • House District 14, currently represented by Rep. Donavan McKinney, D-Detroit
  • House District 16, currently represented by Rep. Stephanie Young, D-Detroit

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