Politicians should not be choosing their voters; voters should be choosing their legislators.
Redistricting is the process of redrawing district maps after the census to equalize the populations of congressional and legislative districts. Gerrymandering is the act of rigging the districts to sway the outcome of the election toward the party in power.
How has gerrymandering impacted Indiana?
- Indiana is one of the 44 states that put the state legislature in charge of redistricting. 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. In 2018, 37 out of 125 seats were unchallenged.
- 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.
Time is running out! Indiana state legislators need to make redistricting reform a top priority in 2020!
After the 2020 census is conducted, new districts for Congress and the Indiana state legislature will be drawn during the 2021 legislative session. As a member of the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting, CAC wants a bipartisan citizens commission in place to take charge of the map-drawing in 2021. For that to happen, the General Assembly must take action this year.
What is happening in other states:
In states that utilize ballot initiatives redistricting reform has become extremely popular. Last year, voters in Ohio approved redistricting reform. This year, redistricting reform ballot initiatives passed in Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah. Here in Indiana, if reform is going to happen it must be passed by the Indiana General Assembly.
What Indiana’s redistricting reform should look like:
- The Indiana General Assembly should create a nine member citizen redistricting commission composed of Republicans, Democrats, and voters who are neither Republican nor Democrat.
- Any qualified Hoosier should be able submit an application to serve via a public selection process conducted by public universities in the state.
- Legislative leaders should choose finalists from the public submissions, but a random draw would determine the commission membership.
- Commission members must be ethnically, geographically, and gender diverse.
- Map-drawing criteria should include equal population, respect for the Voting Rights Act, compactness, contiguity, and political competition.
- Special consideration should be 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 submit their own redistricting proposals.
Indiana already has the direction it needs from the U.S. Supreme Court.
In several states, federal courts have ruled that state legislatures drew maps that were partisan gerrymanders and those rulings are being appealed to the Supreme Court. However, Indiana does not need to wait for the outcome of those cases to pass legislation to create a citizen redistricting commission.
The legal issue of whether or not a state can empower a group of citizens to conduct redistricting has already been decided by the SCOTUS in a 2016 case from Arizona.
The best way to ensure that Indiana isn’t sued over maps drawn in 2021 is to create a diverse and bipartisan citizens commission to conduct the redistricting process. The General Assembly will still be involved because they would have to vote on the commission’s maps.
Representation is a crucial element of a strong democracy.
Redistricting reform is critical for real representation.
Read the Fact Sheet
To look up and/or e-mail your legislators, visit: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/ To mail a letter or make a phone call: 200 W. Washington Street Indiana House of Representatives
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204-2786
To look up and/or e-mail your legislators, visit: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
To mail a letter or make a phone call:
200 W. Washington Street
Indiana House of Representatives