Statewide redistricting commission accepting applications

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– They have an extremely important job: re-drawing Michigan’s voting districts. Officials took the first step in selecting the 13 people who take on the job.

Millions of Michigan’s voters said ‘yes’ to Proposition 2 last year. Through that vote, the power to re-draw the lines for state and congressional districts went from the state to the people.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is moving forward with a statewide commission that she says will give Michiganders the power to take an active role in statewide elections.

“What we are embarking on,” Benson says, “is really a continuation of the work of citizens to amend our state constitution and put the power to draw our district lines squarely in the hands of the people.”

The Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will consist of 13 randomly selected people: four Democrats, four Republicans and five people who don’t identify with a major political party.

The application process is designed to weed out any politicians, lobbyists and political consultants. Officials will hold workshops around the state before 2020 to teach people about the commission.

“There’s no prior experience or education requirements,” Benson says. “We don’t want anyone to feel that their voice isn’t informed enough to play a role in this process. So that’s the purpose of our public workshops, to demystify the process and ensure that citizens around the state feel that they deserve to have a seat at the table.”

Those that make the cut a year from now will earn $40,000 for their service. While the governor and state legislators go back and forth over the state budget, Benson hopes it won’t impact the commission or its timeline.

“I’m hopeful that my colleagues and our friends in the legislature will ultimately see the value of ensuring every citizen is aware and fully prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.”

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