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Politicians shouldn't be hand-picking their voters. Voters should be hand-picking their politicians.

Representation is a crucial element of a strong democracy. Redistricting is crucial.

 

What is redistricting?

Redistricting is the process of re-drawing district maps after the census to equalize the populations of congressional and legislative districts. Indiana is one of the 44 states that put the state legislature in charge of redistricting.

In Indiana, the General Assembly draws the maps for congressional and legislative districts and the requirements are minimal. Current requirements for redistricting include compliance with the Voting Rights Act, contiguity and equal populations.

What does this mean for Indiana?

-Since legislators draw the district maps, politicians gerrymander districts to choose voters they already know will vote for them and exclude those who will vote against them. 

-Communities of interest, including cities, counties, school districts, and neighborhoods are often divided by district lines, making it difficult for those citizens to be heard. This can lead to a community’s interests being ignored or underserved. 

-When districts are lopsided from a partisan perspective it creates polarization, with candidates appealing to the fringes, instead of the middle. Compromise becomes a dirty word, there is no reward for consensus building.

-In 2014, 54 of the 125 candidates for the Indiana House and Senate had no opponents. As a result, Indiana’s voter turnout rate was the lowest in the country at 28%. 

-In 2016, 35 of the 125 candidates for the Indiana House and Senate had no opponents.

-On average from 2010 to 2014, about 42% of Indiana’s state legislative candidates ran unchallenged by the opposite party. When politicians don't have competition at the ballot box, Hoosiers cannot be fairly represented.

The time for reform is NOW.

The Solution? Create an independent, bipartisan process that engages the public.

The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting (All IN for Democracy) has put forth a proposal that merges the best features from redistricting laws across the country. This proposal is SB159, sponsored by Senators Ruckelshaus, Bohacek and Ford. The proposal includes:

-Creating a citizen commission composed of Republicans, Democrats, and voters who are neither R nor D to direct the redistricting process.

-Map-drawing criteria that must be ranked in order of importance. Equal population and respect for the Voting Rights Act must come first because of legal requirements. Contiguity, compactness and political competition should also be considered.

-Special consideration is given to identifying communities of interest and care should be taken to ensure that district lines do not divide communities or inhibit their ability to make their voices heard.

-The redistricting process must be open and transparent, with opportunities for citizens to impact the map-drawing throughout. The public should have access to map-drawing software and all tools available to the official map drafters, so they will be able to submit their own map proposals to the Commission.

More on the Redistricting Commission in SB159:

-The four legislative leaders from their respective caucuses would select four Commission members.

-The remaining members would be chosen by a public process conducted by the seven public universities in the state. Any qualified voter could submit an application to any public university, each university would pick their three top nominees - one Republican, one Democrat and one who is neither Republican or Democrat.

-The names of these twenty-one nominees will be given to the Legislative Services Agency and they will conduct a lottery to determine four additional commission members: One Republican, one Democrat and two who are neither Republican nor Democrat.

-The eight Commission members will choose a person to chair the Commission. The Chair cannot be from the group appointed by the legislative leaders.

-Commission members must be ethnically, geographically and gender diverse.

-This group, representative of Hoosier voters would direct the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency in drawing the maps, using ranked statutory criteria.

In addition to SB159, Senator Walker, Chair of Senate Elections, has introduced SB326: Redistricting Standards. While the bill is a good start and includes much of the criteria contained within SB159, the bill does not include:

-The creation of an independent redistricting commission.

-Language stating that no map can be drawn to advantage or disadvantage any political party or individual.

-An open and transparent process to allow for public participation, which would include public access to the map drawing software and the tools used to draw the district boundaries. 

 

 

 

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The 2018 Indiana General Assembly is in full swing - your State Senator and State Representative need to hear from you!

Urge them to support redistricting reform in the 2018 Indiana General Assembly by supporting SB159.

Urge Sen. Walker to schedule a hearing for SB159 and to put SB159 up for a vote in committee.

Urge Sen. Walker to improve SB326 by including criteria to prevent the protection of poltical parties and incumbents and to allow for full participation by the public through an open and transparent redistricting process.

To look up and/or e-mail your legislators, visit: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

Indiana Senate
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786
(317) 232-9400
(800) 382-9467

Indiana House of Representatives
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786
(317) 232-9600
(800) 382-9842

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