SB326 Killed in House But the Struggle Will Continue
The redistricting standards bill that passed the Indiana State Senate in late January, SB326, died when it failed to
get a hearing in the House Elections Committee. Committee Chairman Milo Smith claimed that Indiana must wait to move
on this modest reform effort until the U.S. Supreme Court hands down its decision in the Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering
and his statement was backed up by the Speaker of the House. Both legislators are simply making excuses -- if anything
all the recent legal activity surrounding partisan gerrymandering should spur Indiana to act -- because the states that aren't
getting sued are the ones with citizens' redistricting commissions.
it is disappointing that SB326 did not make it through the process this year we should take some satisfaction from passing
a redistricting reform bill through the Indiana Senate - that is no small accomplishment and something some folks believed
would never happen.
And, we also were successful in getting Senate
Concurrent Resolution 30 signed. SCR 30 calls for a summer study to examine redistricting issues, including implications
from the U.S. Supreme Court case. The study committee will be a useful tool to organize around and help us continue
to keep pressure on state lawmakers.
To be successful in 2019
we need to make redistricting reform one of the top issues in state legislative campaigns this fall. We'll be working
on a candidate survey and we'll need everyone's help in getting candidates to respond. So stay tuned, our coalition
will be meeting soon after the session adjourns to regroup and formulate a plan for moving forward.
You can help by writing a letter to the editor about the demise of SB326 and challenging lawmakers to take a stand
against partisan gerrymandering.
Thanks for everything
you are doing to move redistricting reform forward. We've come a long way and have farther to go so remember to pace
yourself. This is a marathon and not a sprint.
ALL IN FOR DEMOCRACY (The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting)
An LWVSWIN resolution
calling for an independent redistricting commission in Indiana was passed by the Evansville
City Council on 9/11/17. The Vanderburgh County Commissioners passed a similar
resolution on 10/3/17.
CLICK FOR A PDF OF REDISTRICTING RESOLUTION
CLICK FOR A PDF OF THE COUNTY REDISTRICTING RESOLUTION
DOWNLOAD A REDISTRICTING BROCHURE
WEBB: TOURING OUR GERRYMANDERED DISTRICT
Webb walked with people taking part in the state’s first Gerrymander Meander
by Jon Webb, firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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
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.
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