Only a few weeks remain before new voting districts will be adopted and become law by year’s end. It will be interesting to see what those final maps look like and consider the long-term effects they’ll have on elections in Michigan now that an independent citizens commission is doing the work instead of elected officials.

The maps change on an almost daily basis so it’s hard to draw too many conclusions just yet but the process as a whole brings up some important considerations. It’s pretty obvious from the public comments that those following the redistricting feel strongly about who their “voting neighbor” should be.

As the commission wrestles with districts for U.S. Congress, the suburban and rural divide is pretty apparent. The state’s 10th District, which includes both Lapeer and St. Clair counties currently, is proposed to expand its boundaries further south to include more of Macomb and a new portion of Oakland counties—something our neighbors to the south do not want to see happen according to public comments submitted with the proposed maps. Essentially, they don’t feel they have much, if anything in common, with the Thumb. Regardless, it appears that whatever district the Thumb is in, its boundaries will have to extend either to the west or south as our more-rural communities lose or only see small population gains, thus forcing some potentially unwanted groupings.

In the near term, the changes also have the potential to upend some candidate’s campaigns already underway. Several have already declared their intentions to seek office—particularly in the soon-to-be-open 82nd House District—and since that race is most hotly contested in the August primary, potential changes could cut into campaign time. New boundaries could also result in incumbents from the same party facing off in the primary to keep their jobs in redrawn districts.

Whatever the outcome, the changes have the potential to make the 2022 election season a challenging one for voters too. New candidates are the norm nearly every time we head to the polls, but add in new boundaries and new district numbers this time around and, as a result, residents will need to acclimate themselves to these changes before casting a ballot.

You can trust that our newspaper will continue covering these developments and help our readers navigate the new voting landscape in the coming months.