The Redistricting Dilemma: How the Political Map Determines Elections

Monday, April 9
7:00 p.m.
Park Library Auditorium (view map)​​
Open event flier


Panelists for the Spring 2018 Griffin Forum will discuss redistricting, the process used to determine voting districts and boundaries, and how the political map determines elections. Panelists include: Nathan Inks, attorney; Bernie Porn, founding principal and president of the survey research firm EPIC-MRA; and Steve Mitchell, chairman of Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc. The forum will be moderated by Michigan political pundit Bill Ballenger.

Image of Nathan InksNathan Inks, '12

Nathan Inks is an attorney currently clerking for a judge in Oakland County. He graduated from the Central Michigan University Honors Program with a Bachelor of Science in meteorology in 2012. While at CMU he served as Chairman of the College Republicans for 3.5 years and was a columnist for Central Michigan Life. He went on to Wayne State Law School, earning his Juris Doctor in 2015 and was admitted to the Michigan Bar later that year. Nathan has been active in the Republican Party since 2004, having worked and volunteered for numerous campaigns; he was the Republican nominee for State Representative for the 14th district in 2014. Nathan has been an advocate for redistricting reform; he won a 2011 redistricting competition held by the Michigan Center for Election Law and has discussed the issue in local newspapers and on Michigan Radio.

Image of Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell
President of Mitchell Research & Communications, Inc.

Steve Mitchell has been president of Mitchell Research & Communications, a national political polling and consulting, public affairs/advocacy and marketing research company based in East Lansing, since its founding in 1985. Prior to founding his own firm, he was on the national staff of Reagan-Bush 84 assigned to Washington state where he was in charge of all voter programs and acted as chief spokesperson for the president’s re-election campaign in that state.

Mitchell has been interviewed by all the major U.S.TV networks as well as media outlets in the UK, Japan, and Brazil. He is a recognized speaker on trends in politics and polling. He has been pollster and election analyst for TV stations across America including KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, KOVR-TV in Sacramento, KFSN-TV in Fresno, and KSDK-TV in St. Louis. 

In Michigan, he polled for the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press and WDIV-TV in Detroit from 1996-2014.  He was a regular guest on the Flashpoint program hosted by Devin Scillian on WDIV-TV for almost 14 years. In September 2014, he returned to WJBK-TV (FOX 2 Detroit) as pollster and analyst.  He was a pollster and commentator for WJBK-TV from 1989-96.  

Image of Bernie PornBernie Porn
Founding principal and president of the survey research firm EPIC-MRA

Bernie Porn is a partner and President of EPIC▪MRA. Drawing on over three decades of research and communication experience, Mr. Porn's primary role with the firm involves the writing and analysis of the survey research conducted for EPIC▪MRA 's clients. He is also looked to by members of the media, academia and others for commentary on the wide spectrum of topics researched by the firm. 

Mr. Porn is a graduate of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, majoring in urban affairs and schooled in statistics. He was a staff member in the Michigan House of Representatives for nineteen years, serving as the Director of Communications from 1990 to 1992. He worked extensively on the 1981 and 1991 Michigan legislative and congressional redistricting. 


Image of Bill BallengerBill Ballenger is a Michigan political pundit who operates "The Ballenger Report." He was the founder of Inside Michigan Politics, a state-based biweekly subscription newsletter that he launched in 1987 and published for 27 years. He is a former state representative and state senator, an ex-state racing commissioner, and director of the Michigan Department of Licensing & Regulation. Mr. Ballenger also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare in the administration of President Gerald R. Ford. 

Ballenger holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been a visiting adjunct professor at the University of Michigan/Flint; in both Lyman Briggs and Justin Morrill Colleges at Michigan State University; and in the Public Administration program of Western Michigan University. 

Bill Ballenger served as the Griffin Endowed Chair at Central Michigan University from 2003-2007.

Media & Event Photos

Central Michigan University's photo gallery

CM Life 4/9/18
Panelists Talk Redistricting at Griffin Forum

Video of the Forum

Event Sponsors

The Griffin Policy Forums address social, political, economic, environmental and other current issues. They are hosted twice yearly by the Robert and Marjorie Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government, the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Central Michigan University.

For more information, contact David Rutledge at 989-774-3442 or

About the Griffin Endowed Chair

The Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government at Central Michigan University was established through generous gifts from alumni, faculty and friends of the university. It provides continuing support to fund the salary and associated costs of a government and public policy expert to serve as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration​ and to host twice yearly forums addressing public policy issues.

The Griffin endowment was named to recognize the significant public service of distinguished CMU alumni Senator Robert P. Griffin, '47​, and Marjorie Griffin, '44. Read more​​​​​