State Watch

Michigan redistricting meeting delayed for hours by death threat

A meeting held by the independent group tasked with redistricting in Michigan was held up for several hours on Wednesday due to a death threat.

“At 1:06 p.m. today, the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission received notification of a death threat received through email. We alerted law enforcement and they opened an investigation,” Edward Woods III, the group’s communications and outreach director, told NBC News in a statement.

The meeting was scheduled to be held at the Michigan State University Student Union and was meant to allow for Michigan residents to give feedback on proposed district maps.

Details regarding the death threat have not been disclosed. Soon after the emailed threat was seen, campus police were notified. The police swept the building and cleared it for the meeting.

Michigan State Police have now opened an investigation into the threat.

“The Michigan Department of State has since requested that this matter be further investigated by the Michigan State Police. This investigation is in the preliminary stages; there is no threat to the public at this time,” a spokesperson for Michigan State Police said, according to NBC.

The 13-member committee is currently on a statewide tour holding public meetings for feedback. Unlike most other states, Michigan’s redistricting is done by the independent commission, instead of lawmakers, due to a ballot measure that was approved by voters in 2018.

The commission is composed of four Democrats, four Republicans and five Independents.

Julianne Pastula, an attorney for the commission, said the abbreviated public comment part of the meeting on Wednesday was a direct result of the death threat, NBC reported.

“The commission, if it convenes the meeting, it has to take public comment, and that was why the time was shortened to 30 seconds for public comment — the commission had a desire to be done with the business prior to nightfall,” Pastula said during a press conference.

Following public comment, the commission held a closed-door meeting to address criticisms from voters. Some critics have accused the commission’s proposed map of violating the Voting Rights Act.

“No business transactions. No decisions took place. No deliberations took place at all. It was just simply to receive communications from our attorney,” Woods said of the meeting, ABC affiliate WXYZ reported.

The Hill has reached out to MSU campus police and Michigan State Police for further information about the reported death threat.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) told NBC in a statement that the threat was an “affront to every Michigander.”

“There is no place for violence or the threat of violence in our democracy, and today’s deadly threat against the citizen commissioners and staff of Michigan’s independent redistricting commission is an affront to every Michigander,” said Benson. “Yet I remain confident that they will not be intimidated or deterred from carrying out their constitutional duty and redrawing the legislative maps in service of all the voters of our great state.”

Tags Electoral geography Michigan Michigan State University Michigander Redistricting commission Redistricting in the United States

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