—education, gun violence, environmental concerns—reminds us that we need legislators and local officials who will respond to and work with constituents.
Unless all American citizens can vote, and know that their votes will count, we are not going to get past this crisis of democracy.
While we work to reduce barriers to voting, we continue to work for redistricting reform.
Take the End Gerrymandering Pledge and Pass it On…
We’ve got to spend this summer and fall doing what we can to keep redistricting reform on the General Assembly’s radar screen. One of the best and easiest ways to do that is to take the End Gerrymandering Pledge
Our Muncie City Council passed our coalition resolution for redistricting reform in September 2016, but it’s time to remind them too. Send the link to the pledge to your city council and county commission members and ask them to take a stand for fair districts.
In the 2019 legislative session, three bills have been filed in the Senate and three in the House.SB 91 and HB 1011 are closest to the independent commission goals of our Coalition. Neither, however, has even been heard in committee, so it’s unlikely that they will be going anywhere.Deadlines for completing action in their respective chambers (passing out of committee and passing 2nd and 3rd readings in the chamber) are February 25 and 26.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Last day for 3rd reading of House bills in House
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Last day for 3rd reading of Senate bills in Senate
SB 105 would achieve part of our goals, but only by establishing redistricting standards. It does not address who will be responsible for drawing the lines, a crucial issue for reform.
Although SB 105, the redistricting standards bill, passed the Senate Elections Committee by a 5-2 vote on Monday, February 4th, it has been sitting on 2nd reading for more than a week. Senator Greg Walker is still contemplating language for an amendment to improve transparency and public access to redistricting data and mapping software. This amendment has to be added on 2nd reading and our coalition has been working with Senator Walker to craft language he is comfortable with.
The delay, however, is allowing opponents to come up with additional reasons to criticize the bill. The All IN for Democracy lobbying team has been busy talking to Senate members this week and has gotten more pushback this year than last. In some areas of the state Republican party officials are urging their legislators to vote NO on SB105. So, this means we really need to step up our grassroots pressure.
Legislators won’t act on this issue unless they hear from their constituents that redistricting reform is vital to the survival of our democracy!
As your constituent, I am urging you to support SB105, the redistricting standards bill.
We must end gerrymandering in Indiana, and this bill is an important first step toward that goal. I hope you will work with Common Cause IN and the League of Women Voters of IN redistricting coalition to make it stronger.
We need a fair, impartial, and transparent process in place when redistricting takes place in 2021. Please do what you can to make that happen.
Two presentations focus on the issue and where we go from here.
“Redistricting Reform: What’s Next?”
Presented by Linda Hanson, Spokesperson for LWVM-DC and LWVIN Board Director
Redistricting Standards Bill Set for hearing Feb 4th
Senator Greg Walker has set Feb. 4th as the hearing day for SB105, his bill to create a set of redistricting standards. Although it’s not everything we want, it gives us a legislative vehicle in play, which is of utmost important.
We still need to work on getting a hearing for SB91, Senator Ruckelshaus’ citizens redistricting commission bill, so if you haven’t contacted Senator Walker yet, please do so asap at Senator.Walker@iga.in.gov .
Here’s a suggestion for your message, but please feel free to use your own language.
“Senator Walker, Thanks for your leadership on redistricting reform and for bringing back your bill to create redistricting standards – that’s an important part of reform. But it’s even more important to create a citizens redistricting commission to sever the conflict of interest that exists when legislators draw the lines. Please give SB91 a hearing.”
Redistricting lobby day Feb 4th
It’s important that we send a clear message to Senator Walker and the rest of the committee that time is running out for redistricting reform and we want the whole package this year.
Our plan is to pack the committee room at 10 a.m. with redistricting reform supporters and when the hearing is over, likely around noon, we’ll go across the street to the Indiana State Library for lunch and a legislative briefing. We’ll brainstorm about ways you can help build support in your community and get your legislators to support reform. The briefing will last until about 2 p.m.
If you can, make an appointment to meet with your legislator when session adjourns that day. Please let Julia Vaughn know if you will be attending on Feb. 4th at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email Senator Walker and ask him to support Senator Ruckelshaus’ citizens redistricting commission bill, SB91.
If you are in the Indianapolis area and available on the evening of Jan. 30th – we need your help. Coalition partner Hoosier Environmental Council is sponsoring a phone bank for redistricting from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Indiana Interchurch Center at 1100 W. 42nd Street.
In Indiana, the General Assembly draws the United States Congress and the General Assembly district maps. The process takes place every ten years using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Indiana’s current system of having legislators draw district maps creates the ultimate conflict of interest. Because the process is highly partisan, it is unrealistic to expect politicians not to exploit it for political advantage.
The LWVIN partnered with Common Cause Indiana in 2014 to create a state-wide coalition calling for redistricting reform in Indiana. The coalition partners include: Hoosier Environmental Council, Citizens Action Coalition, ACLU, NAACP, Indiana Farmers Union, Jobs for Justice and Moral Mondays. All IN for Democracy is the logo for the coalition.
The legislature responded by appointing a Special Interim Study Committee on Redistrictingthat met through 2016. Members included: Chair, Rep. Jerry Torr; Vice Chair, Sen. Brandt Hershman; Sen. Timothy Lanane; Sen. Patricia Miller; Sen. Karen Tallian; Rep. John Bartlett; Rep. Justin Moed; Rep. Kathy Richardson; Lay Members – Ted Boehm; Beverly Gard; Sheila S. Kennedy; Tom Sugar. The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting put forward a proposal to the Special Interim Study Committee on redistricting, and a number of the recommendations shaped the report to the legislature.
HB1014 was the primary redistricting reform bill the LWVIN followed in 2017. HB1014 was co-authored by Speaker Brian Bosma and Rep. Jerry Torr and follows the Interim Study Committee’s recommendation. Representatives John Bartlett and Moed signed on as co-authors. HB1014 was not voted out of the House Election and Apportionment Committee chaired by Republican Milo Smith.
In 2018 SB 326 was the only redistricting bill put forward. It set criteria for the process, but did not specify who would be doing the redistricting. It passed the Senate but was not even heard in the House Election and Apportionment Committee chaired by Republican Milo Smith.
In the 2019 legislative session, three bills have been filed in the Senate and one in the House.SB 91 and HB 1011 are closest to the independent commission goals of our Coalition; Sen. Lanane’s SB 37 and SB 105 would achieve part of our goals, the latter only by establishing redistricting standards.
Process of drawing districts
Who is drawing districts
Our current system allows legislators to choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their legislators on Election Day. While population requirements must be met,lines deliberately include or exclude groups of voters based on political affiliation.
Both at Congressional and state legislative levels, gerrymandering has reduced competition. In 2014, 44 out of 100 candidates for the Indiana House and 10 of the 25 candidates for the state Senate had no opponents.
In 2016 Indiana primaries, 81.4% of Democrat incumbents and 78.6 Republican incumbents were unopposed.
Gerrymandered districts undermine the basic concept of one person, one vote and make it more difficult to hold our elected officials accountable. In the 2018 midterm election Sen. Donnelly won 45% of the statewide vote; however, our IN congressional delegation (2D, 7R), IN Senate (10D, 40R), and IN House (33D, 67R) do not reflect that voter distribution.
Non-competitive elections negatively affect voter turnout – already a big problem in Indiana. People do not vote without competition. According to the 2014 Civic Health Index, Indiana’s voter turnout in 2014 was 28%, the lowest in the nation.
With a lack of competition comes polarization. Creation of “safe” gerrymandered districts often results in the election of candidates who are at the ideological edges of their party and who feel little commitment to respond to the concerns of all their constituents. Instead, they may focus on pleasing certain interest groups.
(31 IN House districts lacked competition in 2018.
When legislators draw the lines, the process is conducted behind closed doors and is not transparent. The lack of transparency decreases public trust in the process.
New districts for Congress and the state legislature will be drawn during the 2021 legislative session.The Indiana General Assembly must pass legislation this year to create an independent non-partisan redistricting commission
Familiarize yourself with the Election Committee members of each chamber. If a committee member is from your district, let them know you will be following legislation for redistricting reform and support the establishment of a citizen-led, independent commission to draw congressional and legislative maps.
Time is running out for real redistricting reform. New districts for Congress and the state legislature will be drawn during the 2021 legislative session. The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting wants a bipartisan citizens commission in place to take charge of the map-drawing in 2021; for that to happen in time the General Assembly must take action this year. No more excuses – it’s time for reform.
Why is Redistricting Reform Needed?
When legislators have complete control of redistricting it’s a major conflict of interest. It allows incumbents to choose their voters, instead of voters choosing their elected officials.
Partisan control of redistricting leads to too many uncompetitive or uncontested districts like in 2014, when 44 of the 100 candidates for the Indiana House, and 10 out of 25 candidates for the Indiana Senate, faced no major party opponent in the general election. This leads to low voter turnout. Indiana had the lowest turnout in the country in 2014, at 28%.
Communities of interest, like cities, counties, neighborhoods and school districts can be splintered by where the lines fall – sometimes leading to their interests being underserved or ignored
Memo to Legislators:
51% is not a SUPER MAJORITY—it is a SIMPLE MAJORITY!
What is Happening in Other States?
In states that utilize ballot initiatives redistricting reform has become extremely popular. Last year voters in Ohio approved redistricting reform and this year redistricting reform ballot initiatives passed in Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and Utah. Here in Indiana, if reform is going to happen it must be passed by the General Assembly.
Should We Wait on the U.S. Supreme Court?
In several states, federal courts have ruled that state legislatures drew maps that were partisan gerrymanders; those rulings are being appealed to the Supreme Court. But, there is no need to wait for passing legislation to create a citizens redistricting commission. The legal issue of whether or not states can empower a group of citizens to conduct redistricting has already been decided by the SCOTUS in a 2016 case from Arizona. The best way to ensure that Indiana isn’t sued over maps drawn in 2021 is to create a diverse and bipartisan citizens commission to conduct the redistricting process. The General Assembly will still be involved because they have to vote on the commission’s maps.
What Is Being Proposed for Indiana?
Senator John Ruckelshaus has proposed legislation to create a nine member citizens redistricting commission composed of Republicans, Democrats and voters who are neither R nor D. Any qualified Hoosier could submit an application to serve via a public selection process conducted by public universities in the state. Legislative leaders would choose finalists from the public submissions but a random draw would determine the commission membership. Commission members must be ethnically, geographically and gender diverse.
Map-drawing criteria should include equal population, respect for the Voting Rights Act, compactness, contiguity and political competition. Special consideration should be given to identifying communities of interest and care should be taken to ensure that district lines do not divide communities or inhibit their ability to make their voices heard.
The redistricting process must be open and transparent, with opportunities for citizens to impact the map-drawing throughout. The public should have access to map-drawing software and all tools available to the official map drafters so they submit their own redistricting proposals.
This promises to be a challenging legislative session for achieving redistricting reform.Tim Wesco of Elkhart county has been named the chair of the House Elections Committee. He is NOT a fan of redistricting reform. Bills must get out of committee before they can even be debated and voted on in the full House (or Senate).
A brighter note is Senate Bill 91, authored by Sen. John Ruckelshaus (R), Sen. Mike Bohacek (R), and Sen. Jon Ford (R), which would establish a redistricting commission “because it’s the right thing to do.”It has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Elections chaired by Sen. Greg Walker.
Sign up to join the Redistricting Reform team today!
Nothing will happen, however, unless we, the voters of Indiana, insist on reform.
Sign the Petition
Take a minute out of your holiday activity to SIGNthe redistricting reform petition at http://www.allinfordemocracy.org –and share the link with your friends, co-workers, family, neighbors – anybody who believes that voters should choose their politicians, instead of politicians choosing their voters.
CallState Rep. Brian Bosma, Speaker of the House: 317-232-9677 or email H88@in.gov
– Urge him to make redistricting reform a priority in 2019!
Call State Sen. Rodric Bray, President Pro Tempore: 317-232-9400 or email S37@iga.in.gov
– Urge him to make redistricting reform a priority in 2019!
During his 2016 campaign, Governor Holcomb said that he supported redistricting reform and hoped that it would be in place before the next round of electoral map drawing in 2021.
Ask him to make that happen by publicly announcing his support for redistricting reform—specifically for a transparent and bipartisan process that puts citizens, not politicians, in charge of redistricting.
ATTEND the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting Organization Day Rally at the State House next Tuesday, Nov. 20th at 12:30 p.m. on the Capitol Ave. steps at the State House.
BE THERE WEARING YOUR LEAGUE BUTTON!
And don’t forget to bring a sign (unmounted – no sticks allowed inside the State House).
We’ll have a local actor playing the father of gerrymandering, Elbridge Gerry and musicians from Musicians Local #3 will warm us up with upbeat music. We must gather a large crowd to remind lawmakers that Hoosiers support an end to gerrymandering and that time is running out to pass significant reform!
All IN For Democracy is the coalition between Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. This is OUR coalition and we need your support to succeed!
SIGN the redistricting reform petition at http://www.allinfordemocracy.org–and share the link with your friends, co-workers, family, neighbors – anybody who believes that voters should choose their politicians, instead of politicians choosing their voters.
During his 2016 campaign, Governor Holcomb said that he supported redistricting reform and hoped that it would be in place before the next round of electoral map drawing in 2021. Ask him to make that happen by publicly announcing his support for redistricting reform—specifically for a transparent and bipartisan process that puts citizens, not politicians, in charge of redistricting.