A redistricting commission has redrawn the political districts for the state of Michigan, and the new map has turned one of the most gerrymandered states into one of the fairest.

Every 10 years, each U.S. state must perform the process of redistricting, in which it redraws the boundaries of its congressional and state legislative districts. A decade ago, Michigan Republicans drew heavily gerrymandered districts that strongly favored the party, thereby ensuring a seemingly impenetrable majority in the state Legislature.

However, a Michigan citizen ballot initiative took the process out of the hands of partisan legislators this year. It established a new, independent commission, to undertake the process. The commission, comprised of Republicans, Democrats and independents, created three new maps: for Congress, the State House and the State Senate. It approved its new maps late Tuesday.

The result has created districts so competitive that Democrats may be able to reclaim a majority in the State Senate for the first time since 1984. The maps still slightly favor Republicans, in part because Democratic voters mainly live in densely populated areas. However, it has turned one of the intensely gerrymandered and Republican-biased states into one in which relatively fair political competitions can ensue.

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The new Michigan maps come just over a week after California’s own independent commission drew new maps that show potential for some greater Democratic success. California’s new maps have faced criticism from Republicans. Republicans have complained of the outcome, alleging that the California commission was biased toward Democrats due to the Democrat-favoring maps. However, these complaints are unlikely to provoke overturning the new maps, given that the commission had an even number of Democrats, Republicans and independents.

Michigan, too, may face some pushback. For example, its Senate House map divides over half of the state’s counties into multiple districts, despite guidelines that discourage this.

The tactic of placing redistricting into the hands of independent commissions has provided hope for those who seek to increase the amount that voting districts represent a state’s actual population. This tactic could signal a path forward to undoing hyperpartisan, extreme gerrymandering throughout the country.

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