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from the Indiana League of Women Voters: TAKE ACTION, a Redistricting Reform Bill Update (1/16/18)
There are currently four bills related to redistricting in the State Senate.  Senators Rucklehaus, Bohacek and Ford have authored SB 159 which is the bill that the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting prefers.  This bill has not been scheduled for a hearing,
Senate Elections Committee Chair Greg Walker has authored Senate Bill 326 which creates a set of redistricting standards that legislators would have to meet when drawing new maps.  The coalition lobbying team is working to persuade him to strengthen the bill to make clear that maps can’t be drawn to benefit any party or individual, but we support the goal of his legislation. We believe this step needs to be done in conjunction with establishing an independent redistricting commission.
The Senate Elections Committee has scheduled a hearing for Monday, January 22nd at 9:30 am in the Senate Chambers. We are asking everyone to attend the hearing in support of redistricting reform. We expect SB 326 to be on the agenda and are still pushing for SB 159.
Email Senator Walker Senator.Walker@iga.in.gov to ask him to amend his bill and hear SB 159.  
Dear Senator Walker,
Thank you for your proactive support of redistricting reform in the form of Senate Bill 326. Guidelines for the redistricting process lay the groundwork necessary to inform how maps should be drawn. Your bill demonstrates real leadership in this debate.
We hope our voices of support will embolden you to take this bill a step further by including an important amendment that we feel sets the stage for truly meaningful redistricting reform. We feel this bill can be made stronger by adding language that would prevent districts from being drawn in such a way that either favors or creates a disadvantage for any individual or political party.

Furthermore, comprehensive reform legislation should define not only how reform will take place, but who will be responsible for making it happen. An Independent Commission of citizens is ideal for conducting this important work and protecting the integrity of the process.  Senators Rucklehaus, Bohacek and Ford have authored SB 159 to address this issue. We hope you will give this important bill a hearing where it can be discussed and debated.
Thank you for your time and for lending your voice in this critical mission to preserve and strengthen our democracy through redistricting reform.



Evansville Central Library
200 SE Marin Luther King Jr. Blvd

Local state legislators are invited to make themselves available to answer questions on the second Saturdays of each month during each year's legislative session. 

MYL sponsors are the Evansville Teachers Association, the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, League of Women Voters of SWIN, Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 136, Teamsters Local 215, United Neighborhoods of Evansville, and Valley Watch

2018 sessions:

Saturday, January 13
Saturday, February 10
Saturday, March 10

Doors open at 9 am.  Sessions start at 9:15 am and end at 11 am.

Sessions will be aired on WNIN Channel 12. 
They WILL also be 
available for streaming on the WNIN website under Regional Voices. Direct links will be posted as they become available.









Jon Webb walked with people taking part in the state’s first Gerrymander Meander
by Jon Webb, jon.webb@courierpress.com  published in the Evansville Courier & Press July 11, 2017
Julia Vaughn stood in front a packed conference room at St. Lucas United Church of Christ, talking about the birthday boy.  “Elbridge Gerry should be remembered as an American patriot,” she said. “But he isn’t.”
The signer of the Declaration of Independence / vice president / powdered-wig enthusiast is the namesake for “gerrymandering”: the act of slicing political districts into politically advantageous shapes. He was born July 17, 1744, and the crowd at UCC gathered on Monday for two reasons: to kind-of ironically honor his birthday, and to protest the very thing that made him famous.  hey even had cake and punch.

Several dozen folks – from older women to chatty kids -- took part in the state’s first Gerrymander Meander, put on by the League of Women Voters. From St. Lucas, volunteers walked through Jimtown in 90-degree heat, sweat stains darkening t-shirts that advocated for a fair electoral system.

Vaughn, the policy director for Common Cause Indiana, drove from Indianapolis for the event. She’ll turn up in Bloomington for another Meander on Saturday, all leading to a “big rally” at the statehouse on July 17. She worked with local League of Women Voters reps Kathy Solecki and Ann Ennis to put the shindig together.

She said that while the latest batch of redistricting gave Republicans a massive advantage in the state legislature, the issue itself is nonpartisan. The majority party in Indiana reworks districts after each census.

“Both parties are guilty of gerrymandering. Democrats have done it, Republicans have done it,” she said. “It just so happened that in 2011, Republicans, for the first time in 20 years, controlled the entire process because they controlled both chambers. And you can see the evidence of that in election results.” 
Republicans boast 70 of the 100 seats in the House. Before the last redistricting, Democrats controlled the House eight out of 10 years between 2000 and 2010. And in the Senate, well, “blood bath” only does it justice if the bather is an African elephant. As of this year, the GOP controls 41 of the 50 seats.
“Redistricting reform won’t turn a red state blue or turn a blue state red. But what it will do is more clearly represent the will of the voters,” she said. “We are a Republican state, but we’re not an 80 percent Republican state.”

After Vaughn’s talk, walkers flooded the jagged sidewalks of Jimtown. Solecki seemed to be everywhere, pointing out gnarly bulges in the concrete and asking everyone to watch their step.  On Baker Avenue, a shirtless fellow twinkling with sweat noticed the large group carrying bright neon signs and stepped down from his porch.

“What are you all doing?” he asked.
“Gerrymandering!” a walker answered.
“Oh,” he said.


Tim Ethridge is editor of the Courier & Press. Email him at tim.ethridge@courierpress.com.  Published March 26, 2017. 

Ten days before Donald Trump's presidential inauguration, I was invited by the League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana to talk with them, at their March meeting, about "fake news."

In early January, "fake news" seemed pretty simple: Stories that someone made up, posted on a purchased but official-sounding website, and then collected advertising money and created havoc nationwide with thousands of views.

Perhaps the best example was the story about "The Comet Ping Pong," a pizza place in a nice neighborhood in Washington DC. The "story," as reported, linked Hillary Clinton and those close to her to running a child sex slave ring out of the restaurant.

You would think that would be jump out to readers as being a false narrative. Yet a 28-year-old man from North Carolina took it to heart and after "reading up on it" on the Internet drove 350 miles to our nation's capital, took a weapon into the restaurant and fired it. No one was injured in his stated attempt to "rescue children;" in subsequent interviews, he did not disavow the stories that he heard from "word-of-mouth" and confirmed on the Internet.

That seemed a blatant example of "fake news," again a term you hate to use. If it's news, it isn't fake. If it's fake, it isn't news.

Yet from that beginning, and since the likely efforts by Russia to influence our election by planting stories of its own, "fake news" has become a political statement. If a politician, from a local party chief to the president of the United States, does not like or agree with a story, they brand it as "fake." And, more than ever, they are aiming the charges at legitimate news organizations, both local and national, not web sites that pop up in favor of certain causes.

Thus the conversation was launched over lunch on March 23 at McCollough Library on Evansville's East Side. The room was surprisingly, and somewhat frighteningly, full, with around 75 residents and readers eager to listen and, more importantly, share their thoughts. That always helps when you're far from the smartest person in the room, and when you write -- not talk -- for a living...

Click here to go to the entire C&P article

Deb Schade, President
P. O. Box 4456   Evansville, IN 47724

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