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Redistricting commission faces two more vacancies

Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission now has three vacancies. That’s after two members, Republican-affiliated Douglas Clark and Democratic-affiliated M.C. Rothhorn, resigned Tuesday.

A third member, Dustin Witjes, stepped down earlier this month.

Clark, like Witjes, had faced accusations of living outside of the state since last year.

At the commission’s most recent meeting, its attorney, Nate Fink, said Clark had been staying in California with family while he dealt with health concerns. Fink said Clark had maintained a Michigan address and voter registration.

Clark had previously filed a resignation letter in February 2022 but later withdrew it. In his current resignation letter, Clark said his health had worsened.

“Unfortunately, I have reached a point in my life, because of health concerns, where I have to take a step backward and in relation to the MICRC that necessitates resigning my position as Commissioner effective December 31, 2023,” Clark wrote.

Meanwhile, Rothhorn alluded to being too tired to continue with the commission.

“With my resignation rendered today, it is my sincere wish to place the burden and joys of service with the next commission. I choose to place my faith in the process that the people have set up, and that selected me. I trust another person with fresh legs, and fresh reasoning will be able to do more democratic debate, and drawing than this weary soul,” Rothhorn wrote in his resignation letter.

Both moves come after a federal court last week struck down over a dozen metro Detroit state House and Senate districts that the commission had drawn. The court ordered the commission back to the drawing board.

It’s unclear if the commission plans to appeal.

“Guided by Michigan’s Constitution, the Commission carefully followed the seven-ranked redistricting criteria to draw fair maps with citizen input,” Commission Executive Director Edward Woods III wrote in a statement after the decision came out.

“To ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act, the Commission considered race to comply with this Act and not at the expense of the 14th Amendment. The Court came to a different conclusion. The Commission will consider its options moving forward,” Woods said.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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