Re-Districting Reform Event with a Twist:
Gerrymander Meander 2017
of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana and St. Lucas UCC invited the
local community of all ages, races, ethnicities, creeds, and genders
to learn about and improve the power of a vote.
WHAT: Options including taking a 2.1 mile “meander”
along cthe hoppy boundary of IN House Districts 77 and 78; or remaining at St. Lucas Church to learn
more about how Indiana district lines are drawn for elections.
WHEN: Monday, July 10 from
WHERE: St. Lucas UCC, 33 W Virginia St., Evansville.
WHY: Indiana state voting district
rules allow legislators in power to draw voting districts. Hundreds of groups
and thousands of people around the state are pushing for non-partisan
This event raises awareness on the topic.
And More WHY: Elbridge Gerry – the dubious
and infamous father of Gerry-mandering was born in July. We walked in his dust.
Letter to the Evansville C&P Editor: Keep redistricting hopes alive (published
in the Evansville Courier February 24, 2017)
Citizens plan to continue to fight for an Independent, nonpartisan
Redistricting Commission in Indiana and to make the 2018 session of the Indiana legislature a referendum on redistricting
Many districts around the state are non-competitive. Often our citizens do not have a true choice of candidates,
either within or between parties.
In Indiana The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Hoosier Environmental Council,
Citizens Action Coalition, Enterprise Republicans, Women 4 Change, Friends Committee on Legislation, and others, are committed
to helping ensure that redistricting is done in a non-partisan, fair, and transparent way. In addition to the cities
and counties in Indiana that have passed resolutions endorsing redistricting reform, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
recently endorsed the resolution for redistricting reform.
Indiana House Bill 1014 was the redistricting reform
bill (co-sponsored by Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Rep. Jerry Torr (R) that followed recommendations of the Special Interim
Study Committee on Redistricting Reform which met during 2016. As reported in a Courier Press article 2-20-17, HB1014
was heard in committee on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 but not brought to the floor for a vote. What is encouraging
is that a committee member who had been unsure about the bill indicated that the great citizen support he witnessed led to
a decision to support it, had a vote been held. Were others willing to support the bill also? We have been deprived
of knowing how OUR representatives would have voted.
We encourage you to stay informed and to talk with both your Indiana
House and Senate legislators to encourage their support for legislation establishing a nonpartisan redistricting commission
during the 2018 legislative session.
from Meg Connolly, Chairperson of the Redistricting Committee of the League
of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana
Democracy is not a spectator sport. This has been the motto of the League of Women Voters and one of the reasons we
have chosen to focus on the issue of redistricting for the remainder of this decade.
Over and over we hear people say “My vote doesn’t matter/count” or “Why
should I vote, no one represents my views/concerns.” Why do so many voters believe these things – and more
importantly, are they right? The current redistricting process may be at fault. Redistricting occurs by law every 10
years following the census. It has been the privilege of whichever party holds the power in most state legislatures, including
Indiana. (Some exceptions exist in Western states such as Arizona and California where the constitutions allow for citizen
goal of redistricting is to ensure the “one person, one vote” requirement of the US Constitution’s equal
protection guarantee, as upheld by the 1960’s Supreme Court. However, redistricting has become an exercise in
politicians selecting their constituents (Gerrymandering) rather than districts in which voters have meaningful choices when
electing their representatives. Legislators carve out districts that will ensure the re-election of incumbents. This
has resulted in discouraging individuals from running for office and parties from slating a candidate in such districts, i.e.,
an increasing number of uncontested elections.
Additionally, voter turnout has been decreasing in both primary and general elections. In Indiana, in the
2014 General Election for example, the average voter turnout was 30 percent. (In the 1990 General Election turnout was
56.7percent.) Primary and Off Year election turnouts tended to be even lower. Meaningful competition is more likely
to excite the electorate and lead to a larger turnout resulting in the election of representatives who represent different
viewpoints but will work together to reach reasonable compromise in doing the community’s business.
The 2015 Indiana General Assembly voted to support
the formation of a Redistricting Study Committee, making good on a promise made during the 2014 session. So far only
a few members have been appointed to this committee. We urge the timely appointment of remaining members with the intent
to have a knowledgeable, diverse, and impartial committee that has sufficient time to generate meaningful redistricting guidelines
and a transparent redistricting system.
In Indiana the state constitution charges the legislature with the final task of redistricting but doesn’t
specify how it is to be accomplished. Serious consideration of the recommendations of the Redistricting Study Committee
could lead to more competitive and meaningful elections with greater voter participation, i.e., a truly democratic election
Signed by the Board of the League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana:
Toni Beumer, Meg Connolly, Roberta Heiman, Pam Locker, Deborah Schade, Lezlie Simmons, and Kathy Solecki