University of Michigan Gateway Ford School

Michigan's Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission and Communities of Interest: A CLOSUP Research Project


In November, 2018, the citizens of Michigan passed Proposal 2, which amended the Michigan Constitution to place legislative redistricting in the hands of an independent redistricting commission composed of thirteen citizens. The criteria for drawing new districts place "communities of interest" (COIs) high on the list. However, COIs are not well defined, and could be composed of a wide range of groups, based on a wide range of affiliations and interests such as demographics, religion, business and industry, labor, education, and much more.

This research and public service project is being conducted on behalf of and in coordination with the Michigan Secretary of State's Office, which intends to use the recommendations in its efforts to support the state's new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. CLOSUP intends for the resources created as a result of this project to be useful to Michigan Commissioners and citizens alike in the Commission-led mapping phase of this new process. The findings will inform the Secretary of State's Office and the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission on a range of issues related to implementing the COI criterion. The research will identify: concepts and definitions of a COI based on experience in Michigan and across the U.S., and as handled in the academic literature; existing COIs in Michigan, and how to make them aware of the role of COIs in Michigan’s new approach; how other states and the courts have addressed COIs in redistricting; and best practices that Michigan should consider as it adopts COIs in its own redistricting process.

Tied to the research project, CLOSUP hosted a panel discussion with experts on the topic of communities of interest, and opening remarks by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. A video recording is now available.

Project Team

John Chamberlin

Professor Emeritus of Public Policy, Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

John R. Chamberlin is a professor emeritus of political science and public policy. His research interests include ethics and public policy, professional ethics, and methods of election and representation. He taught the core course "Values, Ethics, and Public Policy" at the Ford School. He was the director of the Ford School's BA in Public Policy program from 2007-2011 and the director of U-M's Center for Ethics in Public Life from 2008-2011. John has a BS in industrial engineering from Lehigh University and a PhD in decision sciences from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University.

Contact Information:

Policy Analysts

Alissa Graff
Sarah Gruen
Safiya Merchant
Nick Najor
Gerson Ramirez
James VanSteel

Contact the Team

The project team is happy to speak with any stakeholders who would like to learn more about their work. Feel free to contact the team by email to, or by phone at 734-647-4091.

Related Resources and Links

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University of Michigan Gateway Ford School Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy