LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s top election official and its redistricting panel asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday for more time to adopt new congressional and legislative maps, pointing to delayed census data.
The lawsuit, which was expected, seeks a Jan. 25 deadline — nearly three months later than the Nov. 1 date set in the state constitution. Due to setbacks from the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau is not expected to release redistricting data until mid- to late August and it might not be available in an easy-to-use format until Sept. 30.
“Being out of compliance with the Constitution places the Commission in an untenable situation. A decision from this Court here would protect the Commission’s ability to draw fair and lawful plans pursuant to the orderly and transparent process chosen by the People of Michigan,” lawyers for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission wrote.
They said if the final data is available before Sept. 30, the 13-member panel will expedite the process and try to approve maps before Jan. 25. The deadline for proposing district lines — opening a 45-day public comment period — would shift from Sept. 17 to Dec. 11.
Voters in 2018 passed an anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative that created the commission, which will draw districts once a decade instead of the Legislature.
Bipartisan bills in the House would extend the candidate filing deadline from April 19, 2022, to May 10, 2022.