gerrymandering

Politics & Government
7:53 am
Mon April 29, 2013

Commentary: 14th District follies

Lessenberry commentary for 4/29/13

Less than two years ago, Congressman Gary Peters and his supporters spent nearly $2 million to win a congressional seat different from the one he already held, and one in which he did not live. That wasn’t really his fault.

Michigan lost a seat in Congress. Redistricting had largely eliminated his old district, and Peters had to run somewhere. In this case, he ended up running against another Democratic incumbent, Hansen Clarke, in the oddest shaped district in our history.

The current 14th looks like an old man sitting in a chair with his legs tucked under. His head is Pontiac, his neck, Keego Harbor, His body takes in a wide swath of Oakland County suburbs, from West Bloomfield through Farmington Hills and Southfield, before expanding to include many poor neighborhoods in Detroit. Finally, the legs take in the Grosse Pointes, and the feet end up in a Hispanic neighborhood near the coming new Detroit River Bridge.

This doesn’t exactly fit the ideal standard for a district composed of communities with common interests, but it did fit the needs of the Republican legislature, which wanted to pack as many Democrats into as few districts as possible. Plus, they felt that the Voting Rights Act required them to create two districts that had a majority of African-American residents.

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Politics & Government
8:24 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Commentary: Taking back the state

Lessenberry commentary for 3/25/13

Here’s something to think about: Michigan is pretty clearly a moderate to liberal state. We haven’t voted Republican for President for a quarter-century. Democrats won 12 out of the last 13 contests for the U.S. Senate. More people voted for Democratic than Republican candidates for Congress and the legislature last fall.

Yet guess what. We sent only five Democratic congressmen to Washington compared to nine Republicans. And the GOP still has a solid majority in the state House of Representatives. That’s because of outrageous gerrymandering two years ago by the previous legislature, which was also Republican.

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Politics & Government
5:46 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

State House Republicans say they’ll go forward with plan to split electoral votes

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

State House Republican leaders say they have no plans to scrap discussions about splitting Michigan’s Electoral College votes between congressional districts.         

Both Governor Rick Snyder and Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville have said they’re not on board with the idea. Snyder says it would be better to consider changes closer to the next census, when congressional lines are re-drawn.

But House Speaker Jase Bolger said there’s no reason to wait that long.

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Politics & Government
5:34 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

State leaders question plan to divide Michigan’s electoral votes

Governor Snyder said a plan to split Michigan's Electoral College votes should not be considered at this time.
Office of Governor Rick Snyder Wikimedia Commons

Two top Republicans in Lansing say they’re not on board with a plan to split Michigan’s Electoral College votes.

Lawmakers have been expecting a bill that would divide the state’s electoral votes by congressional district.

State Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville said that would make the state less important in presidential elections.

“At this point in time, I’m still sticking to my guns. I think the bigger package of votes for the winner brings more attention to the state and keeps us united. So I haven’t been convinced otherwise yet,” Richardville said.

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Politics & Government
4:27 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

States could make sweeping changes to Electoral College

Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

In his commentary this morning, Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry pointed to what he is calling a Republican plan to rig presidential election results.

Currently, with the exception of Maine and Nebraska, all of a state’s Electoral College votes go to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in that state.

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Politics & Government
8:00 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Commentary: Rigging presidential elections

Lessenberry commentary for 1/22/13

We’re used to some level of dirty politics in our elections, even presidential elections  -- in fact, smears, nastiness and exaggeration have been around since the time of George Washington.

But we draw the line at trying to actually rig the election results. When the verdict is in, it’s in, and everybody accepts the result.

Except now certain Republicans around the country have a plan to rig presidential election results to virtually guarantee that any Republican would win the presidency, even if they really lost.

Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus has endorsed this plan, members of his party are actively pushing it in Pennsylvania, and Governor Snyder says it is worth thinking about in Michigan.  The truth is that it is not only unfair, but has the potential, if adopted, to make Michigan less relevant in presidential elections.

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Politics
3:51 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Michigan Supreme Court to weigh in on Oakland County redistricting controversy

The Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments tomorrow over a state law allowing Republicans to draw county commission boundaries in Oakland County.  

Just released emails seem to show Oakland County Republicans tried to circumvent the rules to maintain control of the county commission.

“Clearly there has been a collusionary attempt on the part of the Republican legislators in this body from Oakland County," says Vicki Barnett, a Democratic state lawmaker from Farmington Hills. 

Barnett says it’s a “major breach of trust in the government system”. 

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Politics
6:45 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Michigan Court of Appeals strikes down GOP reapportionment of Oakland County commission

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld part of a lower court's ruling involving redistricting in Oakland County.

The court ruled Wednesday that the law passed last year by the GOP-controlled Legislature was a local act affecting only one government and needed to pass with two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate to meet state constitutional requirements.

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Politics
5:28 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Oakland County redistricting loses in court

A judge has overturned a state law that scrapped Oakland County’s new commission map and gave Republican elected officials the power to draw a new one.

The challenge was filed by Democrats who say the law was simply a GOP power grab.

The ruling is the latest chapter in a struggle for political power in the former Republican bastion that’s now a battleground county.

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Politics
5:25 pm
Tue August 9, 2011

Governor Snyder approves redrawing Michigan's political map

Governor Rick Snyder has approved measures that redraw Michigan’s legislative and congressional districts. The new maps were approved by the Legislature’s Republican majorities in an intensely partisan battle. But this may not be the final word on the state’s new district maps. 

Michigan loses a congressional seat in the new maps to reflect the loss of population in the most recent census. The new lines throw at least two incumbent Democrats into the same district.  

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History
4:37 pm
Wed June 29, 2011

Redistricting, then and now (audio)

Originally published in the Boston Centinel, 1812.
Wikimedia Commons

The new redistricting maps drawn up by the Republican majorities in the Michigan Legislature are unveiled and Democrats are not happy.

Michigan Radio’s political analyst Jack Lessenberry gives some historical context to the upcoming fight over redistricting.  He spoke to Michigan Radio's Jenn White.  You can here the interview here.

The rules are different than they used to be, but basically all districts should have the same population, for congressional districts, exactly the same, according to Lessenberry. State legislative districts can have up to a 5% variation.

He says this was not the case in the 1960's.

"Before the U. S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960's there was no requirement that they have the same population. So you had, in the case of Michigan, both congressional districts and legislative districts that were several times larger than one or the other one, and they each got one representative."

Lessenberry gives us a lesson on gerrymandering and explains the origin of the term. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts presided over the drawing of a district that was shaped as a salamander.

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Politics
1:32 pm
Fri April 15, 2011

Making sense of redistricting

Michigan State Capitol
user cncphotos / flickr

The 2010 Census figures, released last month, announced that Michigan was the only state in the nation to lose population in the last decade. Now it is up to the states to redraw their congressional districts based on the findings of the Census.

Redistricting can play a big role in the political makeup of both state and federal representation. In Michigan, citizens are waiting to see how the Republican-dominated Legislature will handle the task of reshaping the state’s congressional districts.

The main objective of redistricting is to create congressional districts with roughly equal populations in each district, says John Chamberlin, Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

“It takes account of the fact that people move around the state or people move out of the state. In 2010, if you looked at the populations in state House districts, for instance, there are disparities. So redistricting resets the clock back to roughly equal populations.”

Each state handles the task of redistricting differently. In Michigan, redistricting is treated as legislation, with the Legislature creating a bill for passage by the governor. Because the Republican Party controls the Michigan state Senate, House, and governorship, the task of redistricting will fall solely to the Republicans.

Due to the fact that Michigan lost population since the last redistricting took place, the state will lose one member in the U.S. House of Representatives. Through redistricting, the Michigan Legislature must determine where to combine districts in order to eliminate the district of one U.S. Representative, explains Chamberlin.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Redrawing Michigan's political map - Will it be fair?

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A state House panel will begin the process of redrawing Michigan’s political maps this week at the state Capitol. The redistricting process works like any other law that is approved by the Legislature and then moves on to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature.

The new political map will also most likely be contested and end up in front of the Michigan Supreme Court. But with all areas of government controlled by Republicans, many Democrats are skeptical that the process will be fair.   

Republican state Representative Pete Lund will chair the committee.       

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Politics
3:13 pm
Thu April 7, 2011

Redrawing the political map of Michigan

Voters in Jackson, Michigan fill out their ballots in a recent election
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

A state House panel next week will begin the process of redrawing Michigan’s political maps. The first hearing will focus on results from the 2010 U-S Census.  

Michigan lost population over the past decade, and the state will lose a seat in the U.S. House. With Republicans controlling all branches of state government, Democrats are worried that new district lines will target a vulnerable Democratic seat like that of US Congressman Gary Peters.          

The state House Redistricting and Elections Committee is chaired by Republican Representative Pete Lund. Lund led the successful GOP push to retake the Michigan House last fall. Lund said in a statement that he looks forward to the hearings and, "a fair, effective redistricting process for our state."

Politics
4:48 pm
Mon March 21, 2011

Michigan will get detailed census data tomorrow

Census data is in the mail
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state of Michigan will formally recieve its 2010 U.S. Census data tomorrow .   We already know that the data will show Michigan was the only state in the union to lose population between the 2000 and 2010 census.  We should also learn where that population loss will be felt the most. 

The Associated Press reports that the census data will get very specific.  Among the data will be population summaries by race, Hispanic origin and voting age for jurisdictions such as counties, cities and school districts.

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Politics
12:48 pm
Thu March 17, 2011

Important census data coming to Michigan next week

A U.S. Census Bureau form sent to a Michigan address last year
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The state of Michigan will receive detailed population data from the U.S. Census Bureau next week.  The information will have far reaching effects.  In December, Michigan learned its population slipped by about 54 thousand , to just under 9.9 million people.  Now the details. 

The new census data breaks down Michigan’s population into a number of subsets, including race and ethnicity.  

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Politics
3:34 pm
Thu January 20, 2011

Dingell plans to run again

John Dingell (D), the dean of Michigan's congressional delegation
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The dean of Michigan's congressional delegation plans to stay in Washington. John Dingell says he plans to run again for the seat he's held since the mid-50's.

Here's the Associated Press story:

Two months after winning a 28th full term in the U.S. House, Michigan's John Dingell says he's going for 29. The 84-year-old Dearborn Democrat tells The Detroit News he'll be a candidate for re-election in 2012. Dingell has been in Congress since 1955. He calls it "the greatest job in the world."

The man known as "Big John" currently represents the 15th District, which could be in jeopardy as redistricting looms. The number of House seats in Michigan will drop one to 14 next year, and majority Republicans could change up Dingell's district.

It now encompasses the far southeastern portion of the state, including Monroe and Ann Arbor. Dingell says he's "had three bad redistrictings" and has "survived every one of them.