More About the Michigan Commission’s Website
Michigan’s new independent redistricting commission has held its first public hearing and implemented a new website to solicit and organize the public comments its receives.
At a May 17 webinar sponsored by OneVirginia2021 and the League of Women Voters of Virginia, Moon Duchin, a Tufts University mathematics professor whose MGGG Redistricting Lab designed the website, noted that within the first week, the Michigan website had received between 120 and 150 public comments. In the webinar Duchin demonstrated how interested citizens could post written testimony the way they would make public comments, and could also draw a map of their “community of interest” and explain their map to those who would be drawing the maps. Duchin added that her group’s approach was simply “one possible way” to encourage useful public comment. Duchin spoke with two other speakers, Chris De Rosa, co-chair of the League’s Redistricting Committee, and Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters, Not Politicians, which led the campaign to create the Michigan commission. Duchin’s presentation begins at about 20:00 in the video.
At the May 19 meeting of the Virginia Redistricting Commission’s Budget and Finance Subcomittee, Commission Co-Chair Mackenzie Babichenko said she had seen the presentation and thought the website was a “good way to solicit input.” It seemed, she said, “organized, direct, and efficient.”
Duchin noted that in the 2010 redistricting cycle, the state of Utah, for example, solicited and received 300 valid redistricting plans for the legislature to consider. This year, she said, redistricting commissions might receive thousands, and added, there is “such a thing as too much data” if it becomes overwhelming. Duchin said her group and others have been working to address the problem of “translating the kind of things people say when they come before a microphone,” and putting it in the form of “visualizable and actionable data that can be put in front of line drawers.”
The Virginia commission’s Citizen Engagement and Budget and Finance Subcommittees will be holding additional meetings over the next two weeks to make recommendations to the full commission on the approaches the approaches that should be taken.
–Sara Fitzgerald, LWV-Falls Church