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 to representation.
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.
In 2016, the Special Interim Committee on Redistricting, a bipartisan panel of legislators and citizens recommended the General Assembly pass a law to create a 9 member redistricting commission. It’s a step in the right direction but needs improvement in several key areas, including the following:
- A broader and more independent commission selection process. Eight of the nine Commission members would be appointed by the legislative leadership. We have concerns that this process would limit the independence of the Commission members and would result in a Commission that is not representative of Hoosier voters.
- The allowance of secret discussions. The draft would allow Commission members to have private, ex-parte discussions with legislators and others directly impacted by the maps.
- Protection for incumbent Senators. The draft says that incumbent Senators cannot be put in a district with another incumbent Senator. We believe that districts should be drawn in the public interest, not to protect incumbents.
For more details, read our Redistricting fact sheet.