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 Citizens Redistricting Commission composed of thirteen citizens. The criteria for drawing new districts place "communities of interest" (COIs) high on the list. However, communities of interest 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.
To help the state, its citizens, and the ICRC itself, CLOSUP launched the Michigan Redistricting Project, in the summer of 2019. CLOSUP's initial work was conducted on behalf of and in coordination with the Michigan Department of State (MDOS) in the lead up to the launch of the ICRC in the fall of 2020. Initial stages of the project identified concepts and definitions of COIs 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 the ICRC might consider as it plans its work in the redistricting process.
CLOSUP also assisted MDOS in planning for the launch of the ICRC, and in training the ICRC, and is also conducting research to build a contact database of existing COIs in Michigan. The Center is partnering with other stakeholder organizations to foster engagement by COIs in the upcoming redistricting process (see below, or contact CLOSUP by email to email@example.com for more information).
WHAT ARE COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST
We suggest the following list of characteristics of a COI as a starting point for the ICRC’s consideration:
- Communities of interest “may include, but shall not be limited to, populations that share cultural or historical characteristics or economic interests.”
- A Community of Interest is associated with a contiguous area on a map.
- The common bonds associated with a Community of Interest are linked to a set of public policy issues that would be affected by legislation. These shared interests in legislation are likely to result in a desire to share the same legislative district in order to secure more effective representation.
Examples of COIs include:
- Historical communities; economic communities; racial communities; ethnic communities; cultural communities; religious communities; immigrant communities; language communities; geographic communities; neighborhoods; economic opportunity zones; tourism areas; school districts; outdoor recreation areas; communities defined by natural features; creative arts communities; media markets, etc.
COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST INFOGRAPHIC
Click the infographic image below to see a full-scale version, or download the infographic here, to share it with others
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COMMISSION
In August 2020, CLOSUP published a report from its research on behalf of MDOS that was included in the ICRC’s initial packet of materials, with recommendations to the Commission on The Role of Communities of Interest in Michigan’s New Approach to Redistricting.
PANEL DISCUSSIONS ON COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST
In the fall of 2019, 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.
DATABASE OF MICHIGAN COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST
A team of students at CLOSUP are researching and identifying potential Communities of Interest, and constructing a database that can be used by stakeholders to engage Communities of Interest in Michigan’s upcoming redistricting process. The database is not publicly downloadable at this time, however if you are interested in using the database to engage communities of interest in the redistricting process please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Professor Emeritus of Public Policy, Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy
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.
Policy Analysts 2019-2020
Policy Analysts 2020-2021
Christian Ilarraza Colon