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Meeting, sign-up Thursday for election redistricting panel

In November 2018, Michigan voters backed an amendment to the state constitution to have a citizens’ panel rather than legislators handle drawing new district lines for the Michigan Senate, Michigan House of Representatives and U.S. Congress.

Now it’s time for those who fought for that change to step up and become part of the process.

The public can learn more about what’s involved, including signing up to serve on Michigan’s new Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, at a free workshop from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Eastern time Thursday in the Founders Room of Northern Michigan University’s Northern Center, 1401 Presque Isle Ave. in Marquette.

“The invitation for all eligible registered voters to submit applications to serve on the Redistricting Commission is the beginning of Michigan’s effort as one of the first states in the nation with a citizen-led redistricting process,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said.

The workshop is the first in the Upper Peninsula region and among a statewide series of events designed to promote awareness about the opportunity to serve on the commission and provide step-by-step instructions about the application process.

The workshop will include an overview of the new redistricting process and an opportunity for participants to fill out an application, which takes about 15 minutes. Notaries will be available to complete the notarized signature requirement for each application at no cost. Participants should bring a photo ID to the workshops so notaries can verify their identity.

All eligible Michigan voters are encouraged to apply to serve on the commission, which does not require any special skills or expertise. More information is available at RedistrictingMichigan.org.

The randomly selected 13-member redistricting commission will consist of four members who affiliate with the Republican Party, four members who affiliate with the Democratic Party and five members who are not affiliated with either major party.

Every 10 years after the U.S. census, district lines for political offices must be redrawn in states across the country to accurately reflect their population. Under Michigan’s new constitutional provision, voters charged the Secretary of State with administering the application and selection process of commissioners, as well as providing administrative support as the “secretary without a vote” of the commission once it is formed.

The randomly selected commission of citizens each will earn about $40,000 as compensation for their service. Commission members also will have the authority to choose whether to reimburse their travel and other related expenses as part of their duties. The commission will convene in fall 2020 and will be required to enact district maps no later than Nov. 1, 2021. The commission maps will become law by Dec. 31, 2021, and take effect for the 2022 election cycle.

For more information on the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, go to RedistrictingMichigan.org.

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