EAST LANSING, October 28, 2021 ~ Wednesday, a meeting held by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission received a death threat, and the meeting was subsequently delayed for hours.
Based on census data, states redraw district maps for national and local elections as part of a process known as redistricting. However, this process has become increasingly political in recent years, with legislators in both parties trying to find advantages for themselves.
As a result, Michigan voters in 2018 approved a ballot initiative that tasked an independent group of citizens to handle the redistricting, instead of lawmakers. The group consists of four Democrats, four Republicans, and five Independent citizens.
“More than 61 percent of Michigan residents made an intentional and deliberate decision, by more than 61 percent to say, ‘we want citizens, not politicians to draw the lines,’” said Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Spokesman Edward Woods III to 760 WJR’s Kevin Dietz.
October 28, 2021 ~ Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Spokesman Edward Woods III tells Kevin Dietz about the Michigan redistricting meeting that was delayed yesterday after the commission reported receiving an emailed death threat.
The threat was sent to the commission’s email on Tuesday, though the message was not opened until Wednesday.
The meeting was delayed for several hours while police investigated the building, before giving the all-clear.
The group is currently on a tour through Michigan to hold five public hearings, in order to get public feedback on draft congressional and legislative districts before taking a vote.
“Now, the commission came up with a proposal, what they think these maps should look like,” said 760 WJR Senior News Analyst Marie Osborne to Kevin Dietz. “But again, we stress, that is just a proposal, it’s just the starting point for all this. So they wanted to make sure that they got public input.”
October 28, 2021 ~ 760 WJR Senior News Analyst Marie Osborne tells Paul W. a Michigan redistricting meeting was delayed for hours by a death threat on Wednesday but eventually they resumed their work.
The end of the session was held behind closed doors, and the session was still being live streamed, though the audio was muted. This could be found to be in violation of the Michigan Constitution, which states “the commission shall conduct all of its business at open meetings.”
“Sadly, as many of us predicted would happen, we’ve gotten secrecy and incompetence run wild,” said Fair Maps Michigan Executive Director Tony Daunt. “There is no reason, let alone statutory authority, that provides this commission and their attorneys (the power) to discuss one of the most important aspects of redistricting — the Voting Rights Act — behind closed doors.”
The threat is still currently under investigation.