Pointes Split in State House
Michigan's New District Lines
For Congress, State Legislature and County Commission
Drawing new district boundaries requires compliance with a variety of constitutional and judicial provisions, one of which is not how beautiful or logical the new district boundaries appear on a map.
Populations must balance, constituents must live in “convenient territories contiguous by land,” and boundaries must follow existing political boundaries, such as county, city, or township limits.
There is more. Add to those important constraints the reality that Michigan is one of 17 states that, under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, must have its redistricting plans pre-approved by the federal government. This is to ensure that new plans don't dilute the political power of racial and ethnic minorities -- not necessarily Democratic seats, but minority seats.
So, in any redistricting plan, the two congressional seats now held by John Conyers and Hansen Clarke must fall within an area meeting the statutory minority demographic threshold. This requirement holds despite the fact that they presently represent areas of Detroit that have suffered severe out-migration. Data showing the majority-minority racial breakdown in the new congressional Districts 13 and 14 are presented in the table on this page.
For Detroit's eastsiders, the newly reconfigured, s-shaped area will be “District 14,” shaded in dark blue on the map.
Although not necessarily a pretty map, the Michigan legislature finished its complex assignment, and the Governor approved the new plan on August 9, 2011.
Following results of the 2010 U.S. Census, the plan carved Michigan into 14 new U.S. congressional districts, 38 new Michigan senatorial districts, and 110 new representative districts.
Then to expedite federal approval, Michigan asked a federal court to declare that the redistricting plan can be implemented immediately. A court ruling on the request is pending. With an August primary and the November 6, 2012, General Election less than ten months away, prospective candidates and voters are anxious to have this resolved.
UPDATE: On February 28, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the State of Michigan a declaratory judgment "preclearing" Michigan's redistricting plans, stating the redrawn maps "may be implemented immediately." >>Read the ruling.
As explained below, all five of the Pointes and Harper Woods remain together in three of the four reapportioned areas.
U.S. Congressional District 14
Under the new plan, all of the Pointes located in Wayne County will continue to share representation by the same elected officials in U.S. Congressional District 14, State Senate District 2, and Wayne County Commission District 1.
To deal with Michigan's population decline, comply with the federal Voting Rights Act, and meet other considerations, the new s-shaped 14th District combines the Pointes, Harper Woods and Hamtramck with a slice of Detroit, plus Southfield, Oak Park, Farmington Hills, Pontiac and several other Oakland County communities. >>See all of Michigan's new U.S. congressional districts.
Here's how the Lansing pols delicately explain part of their plan:
The redistricting plan was designed to comply fully with both section 2 of the voting rights act of 1965, 42 USC 1973, and the requirements of the equal protection clause of amendment XIV of the constitution of the United States, as set forth in Shaw v Reno, 509 US 630 (1993), and subsequent cases concerning racial gerrymandering. In light of these dual obligations, the plan avoids any practice or district lines that result in the denial of any racial or ethnic group's equal opportunity to elect a representative of its choice and, at the same time, does not subordinate traditional redistricting principles for the purpose of accomplishing a racial gerrymander or creating a majority-minority district.
As a consequence, the plan does not result in retrogression or dilution of minority voting strength, particularly in light of the demographic limitations caused by relative population losses and the neutral criteria set forth in section 3 of the congressional redistricting act, 1999 PA 221, MCL 3.63. However, the plan does not sacrifice traditional neutral principles, such as, most importantly, preservation of county and municipal boundaries, for the purpose of engaging in a gerrymander that unnecessarily favors 1 racial group over others.
Because the congressional plan applies to terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 2013, elections using the new boundaries will be held in November 2012.
Michigan's congressional redistricting act fills 43 pages of detail by county, city and census tract. >>View the act.
State Senate District 2
Unlike the effective date for the U.S. congressional and state representative district plans, the senatorial district plan applies to terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 2015, so elections using the new senatorial boundaries will not be held until November 2014.
Shown in the table is data on the majority-minority racial breakdown of senatorial districts affected by the Voting Rights Act.
Pointes Divided Between House Districts 1 and 2
The bitter pill for Pointers is that the approved state representative plan for Wayne County chops the Pointes in two.
State House District 1 includes the Wayne County cities of the Woods, Shores, and Harper Woods with a portion of Detroit.
As the representative plan applies to terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 2013, elections using the new plan will be held in November 2012.
Michigan's representative and senatorial redistricting act fills a whopping 127 pages of detail by county, city, and census tract. >>Take the dare and view the act.
The Small Exception
There is one tiny exception to all of this -- the Macomb County slice of the little shoreline city with the long name, “The Village of Grosse Pointe Shores a Michigan City.” That small Macomb County portion of the Shores is being assigned to Congressional District 9, State Senate District 8, and State House District 18.
One More Map Link
Want to view the new districts for your precinct, zip code, or housetop? Do that with this web application displaying boundaries of legislative (State Senate and State House) and congressional (U.S House of Representatives) districts.
This District Map Locator also includes aerial photography provided by Microsoft Bing Maps. Click the corresponding checkbox to toggle layer visibility. >>Michigan District Locater Map.
Wayne County Commission District 1
In addition to the election of officials by district to represent us in Lansing and in Washington, D.C., there is another official elected by district. That is our Wayne County Commissioner.
Good news for the Wayne County portion of the Pointes and Harper Woods is that our eastside, Lake St. Clair-bordering communities remain together in District 1. This is the result of the Wayne County Commission district reapportionment approved in June 2011. See the District 1 map, right.
Wayne County, the most populous county in Michigan, is divided into 15 districts. One commissioner selected by voters every two years (in even-year elections) represents each district. Again, this means the County Commission election held in November 2012 will follow the new boundaries.
Republican Party Reorg
So far, all of this is for voters. But what about internal reorganization of the Republican Party structure to reflect the new boundaries?
As for permanently reorganizing to reflect the newly drawn U.S. congressional districts, the current 13th District chairman Krista Haroutuni, said, “New officers will not be elected until January 2013.”
That is for permanent officers, but temporary officers will be selected soon. She added, “For convention purposes only, we will be meeting under the new lines in 2012…. We will have a district convention in May (new boundaries -- with a temporary chair) and then elect state convention delegates, again following new boundaries.”
These district and state GOP conventions are set for May 18 and 19, respectively.