Michigan redistricting commission to weigh input from Black voters

Michigan’s redistricting commission will soon decide whether it wants to heed the calls it heard during its statewide tour to make wholesale changes to how it drew Black voters in its draft congressional and legislative districts.

Some of the loudest criticism the commission received targeted the draft districts it drew in Detroit that would pair predominantly Black neighborhoods in the city with whiter suburban communities.

Many of those draft districts would be safe Democratic seats. But civil rights activists, Detroit voters and lawmakers from the city are doubtful Black candidates could win primary elections in the proposed political boundaries.

“Being a Democrat and being Black sometimes is two separate things,” said Michigan state Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit, explaining his opposition to the commission’s maps.

The federal Voting Rights Act requires redistricting plans that ensure minority voters have an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. The current maps dilute the influence of Black voters by unnecessarily concentrating them, according to an analysis that drove the commission’s decision to eliminate majority-Black districts.

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