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INDIANA REDISTRICTING INITIATIVE/RESOURCES

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Letter to the Evansville C&P Editor: Keep redistricting hopes alive

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 reform.

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

FROM THE INDIANA COALTION FOR INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING  (FEBRUARY 21, 2017)
 
Chairman Smith Refuses to Budge, Kills HB1014

Despite receiving hundreds, if not thousands of calls and messages asking him to do his job and call HB1014 for a vote, Rep. Milo Smith, as Chairman of the House Elections Committee, has killed our hopes for redistricting reform this session.  It is sobering that one person has the power to stop such an important bill but that's the way it works at the State House.

But, there are a lot of positives that came from HB1014.  The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce testified in support, which will help us organize more support from the business community.  The tremendous outpouring of public support was truly amazing - I have heard about one committee member who was unsure about how he would vote until he saw the large crowd and heard the testimony - it's too bad he didn't get the opportunity.

Our coalition will hold a press conference to denounce Rep. Smith's unilateral move to kill reform this year and to talk about our plans to build support over the interim so we can come back next year and make the 2018 session a referendum on redistricting reform  It will be held on Wednesday. Feb 22 at 10 a.m. in Room 156C of the State House.  Please join us if you can.  Speakers will include Erin Kelly with the LWV IN, Martha Lamkin with W4C, Dr. Bill Chapman with IFCL, Jesse Kharbanda with HEC, Laura Sucec with CAC, and Megan Robertson with the Enterprise Republicans.  

Sorry for the last minute notice but hope some of you close by can attend.

Also stay tuned for more training sessions scheduled for weekends and evenings.  We are also looking at taking the show on the road.  Which town wants to be the first to host a citizen lobbyist training?

Let's stay focused and keep our eye on the prize - an end to gerrymandering in Indiana before 2021.  Thanks for all you are doing to get us there. 

 
We also encourage you - IMMEDIATELY - to draft a citizen letter to the editor to your local paper. We need sustained and vocal public attention on redistricting reform.  Call Rep. Smith out for killing reform this year.    (FEBRUARY 21, 2017)

 

REDISTRICTING HEADLINES

 

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REDISTRICTING

       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 redistricting committees).  

The 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 process.  

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