On Tuesday, Michigan voters dealt a crippling blow to Republican gerrymandering by passing Proposal 2, which will establish a fully independent redistricting commission and take away state lawmakers' existing control over both congressional and legislative redistricting. Republicans have gerrymandered Michigan for the last two decades, and their maps have helped them to win majorities in at least one legislative chamber despite winning fewer votes than Democrats in four of the last eight election cycles—a phenomenon that is likely to repeat itself in 2018 if Democrats don't take back both chambers once the votes are all in.
The proposed reform will create a 13-member commission with four Democrats, four Republicans, and five non-major-party members. The secretary of state will solicit applications to serve on the commission, review them, and prepare demographically and geographically representative random samples of 30 for each major party and 40 for the other applicants. Each of the four legislative leaders will be able to remove five applicants from each pool, but they won't be able to select members: Once they've made their objections, the secretary of state randomly picks from the remainder.
Importantly, this commission requires that at least two commissioners from each group agree to any map. Furthermore, these multi-partisan proposals must meet specific criteria, including: compliance with the Voting Rights Act; geographic contiguity; preserving communities of interest; partisan fairness; not favoring or disfavoring a particular candidate or incumbent; keeping counties, cities, and townships whole; and compactness.
These criteria should ensure the maps treat both parties the same and adequately represent racial minorities. In other words, this commission will ensure maps operate the way they should in a democracy: by giving communities representation while helping ensure the party with the most votes wins the most seats for a change.