By Linda Hanson
Our Indiana legislators may continue to gerrymander districts for their own seats and those of our U.S. Congressional Representative
Bills proposing a non-partisan commission—favored by the League and our Indiana Coalition for independent Redistricting/ALL IN FOR DEMOCRACY—failed even to be heard in committee this session.
The one bill that would have made a small step toward redistricting reform, SB 105, was killed in the House when Rep. Tim Wesco, Chairman of the House Elections Committee, refused to schedule it for a hearing.
Thank you all for your many messages and calls over the course of the legislative session, and for the additional pressure you put on Speaker Brian Bosma to convince Chairman Wesco to hear the bill. It is frustrating when strong displays of public support are ignored (we weren’t alone in our efforts!). Seeking legislative reform from legislators who enjoy a supermajority is a challenge.
We do have one more year to propose legislation designed to make the 2021 redistricting process more transparent and easier for public participation. But we also need to start thinking about other ways to impact Congressional and state legislative map-drawing in 2021 if we don’t get reform from the General Assembly.
Keep reading for next steps, outlined by Julia Vaughn
for our Coalition!
While we’ll be back for the legislative fight in 2020
It’s important we start thinking about other ways to impact Congressional and state legislative map-drawing in 2021 if we don’t get reform from the General Assembly.
Back in 2011, with almost no money and very little lead time, Common Cause Indiana, the League of Women Voters of Indiana and AARP Indiana created the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, a diverse and representative group of eleven activists who traveled the state to educate Hoosiers about the importance of the redistricting process and to help them get involved in it.
We will replicate this project in 2021 but will have more lead time and experience (and hopefully funding) – and will add a website with mapping software to the mix. The plan is to sponsor a mapping competition with the winner chosen by the members of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. We’ll then ask the General Assembly to pass the maps drawn by a citizen, since they are the only ones free from a conflict of interest.
Mapping competitions have proven to be effective tools in many states to provide a check on extreme gerrymanders, but it will take a tremendous amount of grassroots work to get the kind of citizen participation we’ll need to pull this off. The best way you can help at this point is to keep doing what you can to educate people in your community about what is coming up in 2021 with redistricting and why they should care.
There are so many things you can do: house parties, letters to the editor, public forums, film screenings, yard sign distribution, passage of local resolutions, Gerrymander Meanders, etc. We plan to have a large meeting in Indianapolis early this summer to bring everyone up to speed on planning for the Citizens Commission and mapping competition, as well as developing new strategies and approaches to reform via the legislative process.
Next Steps: Census 2020 and Doing Our Own Thing in 2021
Many of the organizations involved in the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting will also begin to step up our advocacy for a complete count for the 2020 Census. As you are probably aware, there has been a lot of controversy about the 2020 Census already, but almost no preparation by the federal or state government to ensure a complete count. It’s extremely important to count everyone in our state for many reasons, including redistricting, so it’s important we begin educating the public about the importance of participating in the Census.