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Redrawing Legislative Lines A Politically Charged Issue

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LANSING (WWJ) – There are few issue that are more politically charged than the redrawing of state legislative districts.

The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus told Lansing lawmakers this week certain ground rules must be met as required by law .

Caucus attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell said there should be at least the same number of minority districts under the new blueprint, as there was before.

“Section two of the voting rights act includes a requirement that African American voting strength not be diluted in the drawing of district lines to ensure that minority voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice,” Hollowell said.

Legislative district maps must be redrawn every 10 years, after the census determines any population changes or shifts.

Since the population declined in Michigan, including a 25% drop in Detroit, Michigan is losing one of its seats in Congress. That means lawmakers need to redefine the boundaries of congressional and state legislative districts.

This lost seat means the GOP will have the upper hand in fashioning a district map favorable to its candidates. A likely scenario would merge two majority-Democratic seats in southeastern Michigan, forcing the incumbents to run against each other or retire.

Hollowell said if the redistricting guidelines are not met, the state is basically inviting a lawsuit.

“If it can be shown that district lines were drawn to limit the chances of minorities to elect candidates of their choosing, that would constitute a violation of section two of the act, adopted in 1982,” Hollowell said.

Michigan was the only state to show a decrease in population over the first ten years of the millennium.

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