Redistricting Reform – The Turning Point
9 October 2021 Report to LWVIN Board—LWVIN co-president Linda Hanson
On October 1, 2021, the Senate passed—and the House concurred on technical amendments—electoral district maps for the next decade, effective for the 2022 primaries. The Governor signed the legislation on Monday, October 4, 2021. The maps will maintain the partisan balance and produce little competition. See the analysis below and links here: https://indianapublicmedia.org/news/independent-analyses-say-indiana-redistricting-willproduce-littl
Adoption of these maps, despite the efforts of the All IN Coalition, the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, other Fair Maps advocates, and super minority legislators, proceeded exactly on schedule as announced by the supermajority leadership. Little time was provided for the public to review proposed maps; alternative maps that would have provided more competition, drawn by mapmakers in the ICRC competition, were proposed as amendments but defeated on party lines.
The positive notes, however, are these:
1. LWVIN, working at the state level, through our local leagues and their partners, and with our coalition partners in All IN for Democracy, have significantly raised public awareness about redistricting and its impact on fair representation—that in turn impacts legislation about voting rights, education, allocation of resources, etc. We plan to keep fighting with the support of the mobilized public.
2, We have, with public pressure, slightly changed the behavior of the legislature and garnered some Republican support for a citizens redistricting commission. Feedback from legislators and their staff indicated they were inundated by calls, emails, first purple then blue postcards, and letters calling for transparency and fair maps. The election committees did hold 9 hearings around the state—following the steps of the ICRC—and received much the same messaging that had already been submitted to them from the ICRC public hearings. And they did not cut off testimony from the public or from the super minority legislators during the committee hearings and final Senate and House sessions. They were being watched.
Letter to the Editor: Speak up on "packing" and "cracking"
Published Jan. 15, 2020 in the Evansville Courier
In the next legislative session our elected legislators will take up the issue of drawing new legislative districts. “Cracking” and “packing” are terms used to describe specialized activities by legislators to keep the partisan majority in the district, at the same time holding the populations of the districts equal.
Partisan legislators look at the groups of voters where they live and bring those neighborhoods together. This is called “packing.” Legislators will split neighborhoods to minimize the impact of the opposing party. This is “cracking.”
Our 8th district is a good example of this practice. It is spread out from end of our state to past Indianapolis, in two different time zones. Our representative, Dr. Bushon, is in charge of representing the rural plains of Vermillion and Parke County to the urban areas of Vigo and Vanderburgh. Our neighbors to the east are not included. These are the folks we have the most in common with, geographically and economically, yet to dilute the vote they are assigned another Congressional district.
We have been “cracked.” No one wants to be manipulated in this way, Democrat or Republican. The next Meet Your Legislators is scheduled for Feb. 8, 9 a.m. at the Browning Room at Central Library. Be there and ask your legislators where they stand.
- Genny Tenbarge
Letter to the Editor: Redistricting reform is crucial
Published Jan. 2, 2020 in the Evansville Courier
I went to the rally at the State House on Nov. 19th. I was very inspired by the activism of all of the educators of our state. They are fighting for our youth and for a better education for all.
I was there to rally for redistricting reform. We were not as numerous but our cause is very important and integral to the cause of the teachers. The legislative session that begins in January will be the last time before the 2020 census that thoughtful and equitable redistricting reform can be addressed.
In Eric Hormuth's editorial of Dec. 15th he said that "anytime that one party maintains that much power for that long, and is able to pass legislation without significantly weighing the perspective of the opposing side, democracy loses its edge and institutions that serve our democracy's foundations, in this case public education, begin to slip." He has succinctly given reasons why redistricting reform is so important. This is the only way that education reform will be addressed.
I urge you to contact your state representatives to tell them that you support redistricting reform. Redistricting reform and educational reform are tied together. Until the process of how district maps are drawn is opened to public scrutiny and input, any win for education will be temporary.
- Barbara Delker
WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE TRANSPARENCY AND PUBLIC PARTICIPATION IN THE 2021 MAP DRAWING FROM THE 2020 GENERAL ASSEMBLY! (January 2020)
- We are asking the state to fund and maintain a website with information about the legislation being proposed on redistricting.
- Software and census data should be made available to everyone so citizens can submit maps. We would like there to be an accessible site in each Congressional District, with assistance available for those wishing to use the software, data, and criteria and submit a map.
- We would like the Election Commission to hold 2 rounds of hearings around the state, one before and one after map drafts are drawn. The first round of hearings (at least one in each Congressional district) would be to collect information from citizens about the community’s “communities” of interest as well as what criteria the public think should be prioritized. A second round of hearings should be held for more public input on the proposed map(s).
- We would like the Redistricting Map proposal to be the LAST bill voted on in the session. We would like complete disclosure about a. who drew the map, b. what data were used, c. how decisions were made, and d. make all records associated with redistricting subject to the Indiana Public Records Law.
Some options for further efforts by the committee -- alone or in conjunction with other local League committees -- include podcasts (20-30 minutes) or a TED talk; ‘Minute of Civics’ radio presentations pre-recorded for local stations to integrate into their programming; a scripted radio program on Gerrymandering or a group discussing Gerrymandering (how it is done, what the consequences are, what can be done to stop gerrymandering).
2 LWVSWIN MEMBERS HELPED PACK THE CAPITAL FOR REDISTRICTING!
A Redistricting Rally took place at the Indiana State Capitol in Indianapolis on Tuesday, November 19 from Noon - 2 pm EST. This rally was organized by the League of Women Voters of Indianapolis, Indiana ACLU, Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Beyond Coal, Women4Change Indiana, and Common Cause Indiana. See if you can spot Barb and Meg!
50 people participated in LWVSWIN's Gerrymander Meander on Thursday, September 5, starting at St.Lucas United Church of Christ, 33 W. Virginia Street. Evansville.
Julia Vaughn of Common Cause Indiana came from Indianapolis to share updates and plans for redistricting reform in Indiana in 2020. Then participants travelled by car to Garvin Park -- followed by a one-mile walk through a checkerboard of districts back to the church -- to highlight how gerrymandering divides our neighborhoods to benefit politicians. The national League is putting together a People-Powered Fair Maps Campaign.