Making Democracy Work

Redistricting

LWVIN Position on Redistricting

The LWVIN Position on Redistricting

Indiana restudied its positions on Redistricting in 2012-2013. The position was expanded and adopted by the LWVIN Board of Directors in July, 2013 and in June, 2019

The Position:

  • A citizens commission should determine voting districts in the state of Indiana. A commission should be constituted so as to preclude electoral benefit to any individual or political party.

  • Districts should be compact and contiguous. They should respect existing political and geographical boundaries, such as cities and counties.

  • The drawing of districts should consider factors such as ethnicity, language, socio-economic background and location. Political affiliation or past voting record should not be considered.

  • Incumbency should not be considered.

  • Within the parameters of the federal Voting Rights Act, population size should be one of several factors considered when drawing districts.

  • Transparency is of the utmost importance. All meetings of the commission should be public, and maps, records, transcripts and data should be available to the public. Adequate opportunities for public hearings should be provided, including review of the final plan.

  • The commission should provide written justification for the final district boundaries.

Restudied 2012-2013 Expanded and Adopted by LWVIN Board of Directors, July 2013 Revised by LWVIN Board of Directors, June 2019

Introduction

In 2015, the Indiana General Assembly passed House Enrolled Act 1003. This legislation called for an independent study committee on redistricting reform.

The LWVIN has partnered with Common Cause Indiana to create a state wide coalition calling for real redistricting reform in Indiana. Coalition partners include: Hoosier Environmental Council, Citizens Action Coalition, ACLU, NAACP, Indiana Farmers Union, Jobs for Justice and Moral Mondays. The Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting was appointed.

Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Jerry Torr, a recommendation passed by a vote of 8-3 calling for the establishment of an Independent Redistricting Commission. Rep. Torr's leadership and commitment to the study committee process is deeply appreciated. For a summary of the redistricting process, click here. For a PDF copy of the Interim Study Committee on Redistricting's Final Report, click here.

Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting Makes Its Recommendations

Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting Makes Its Recommendations

On September 19, the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting, of which the LWVIN is a co-founding member, presented its recommendations to the Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting. Key recommendations include:

  • Indiana should establish a citizen-led redistricting commission every 10 years consisting of 9 members: 3 Republican, 3 Democrat, and 3 unaffiliated.
  • All Hoosiers are eligible, but must apply for service.
  • Qualified candidates should be selected by lottery with efforts made to reflect the racial, ethnic, gender and geographic diversity of the state.
  • Redistricting criteria: Districts must be substantially equal in population, contiguous,comply with the U.S. Voting Rights Act, when possible they should not divide communities of interest, and the home addresses of incumbent elected officials should not be considered.
  • Recommendations by the commission should require an affirmative vote of at least 6 members and are subject to legislative approval.
  • Legislative changes, however, can not exceed 2% of the total population of a district and must be accompanied by a narrative explanation.

2017 Proposed Redistricting Legislation

HB1014 became the primary redistricting reform bill the LWVIN followed. Co-authored by Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Rep. Jerry Torr (R), HB 1014 followed the Interim Study Committee's recommendation.

Coalition partners, led by the LWVIN and Common Cause, fought throughout the session to keep HB 1014 alive. On February 15, 2017, the House Elections and Apportionment Committee finally heard the bill. More than 300 people were in attendance and 90 minutes of testimony occurred. Sadly, the chair, Rep. Milo Smith (R), refused to take a vote, effectively killing HB 1014 for the year.

2018 Session Proposed Redistricting Legislation

During the 2018 Indiana General Assembly, legislation to create a set of public interest restricting standards passed the Indiana Senate but was killed in the Indiana House of Representatives. Both the Speaker of the House and the chairman of the House Elections Committee said redistricting reform had to wait until the Supreme Court of the United States decided two redistricting cases. On June 18, 2018 the Supreme Court released opinion in the two partisan gerrymandering cases, remanding Wisconsin and Maryland and allowing a North Carolina case to go to trial. Although these decisions fell short of what redistricting reform advocates had desired, the decision left the door open for the court to outlaw partisan gerrymandering in the future. Throughout 2018 the Coalition stressed that the Indiana General Assembly need not wait for judicial rulings to act on redistricting reform.

2019 Session Proposed Redistricting Legislation

There were several bills introduced into the General Assembly at the beginning of the session. The two bills that the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting supported and advocated for were:

SB91--This bill was co-authored by Sen. John Rucklehaus (R), Sen. Mike Bohacek (R), and Sen. Jon Ford (R). This bill calls for a redistricting commission and the coalition worked closely with Sen. Rucklehaus in drafting the language and content. Sen. Greg Walker (R), chair of the Senate Elections Committee, refused to bring this bill to committee. Sen. Walker indicated that he did not think that a redistricting commission would be supported by the GOP caucus and was not willing to support it.

SB105--This bill was co-authored by Sen. Walker, Sen. Bohacek and Sen. Randy Head (R). It called for creating redistricting for standards for congressional and state legislative districts. It allows the general assembly, during the process by which the initial proposed plans become effective by being enacted as a law, to consider and adopt modifications to the initial proposed plans that deviate from the redistricting standards as long as the reason or reasons for each deviation are publicly explained and documented. SB105 passed in committee and was heard in the full Senate. Amendments were offered by Senators Tim Lanane (D) and J.D. Ford (D), both of whom were influenced by the work of local LWVs and the coalition in drafting the language for the amendments. Sen. Ron Alting (R) worked with Sen. Ford in drafting the amendment to add criteria forbidding partisan gerrymandering and to provide better public access to the process. Sen. Alting worked closely with the LWV of Greater Layfayette in drafting this amendment.

SB105 did eventually pass in the full Senate by a vote of 26-23. Although this was a bi-partisan victory, the margin was significantly different from the previous year, when the identical bill passed out of the Senate with a 42-6 vote. Rep. Tim Wesco (R), chair of the Senate Elections Committee, refused to bring SB105 to the committee for a hearing. The League of Women Voters of the South Bend Area lobbied Sen. Wesco through LTE's and attending a Third House meeting in March. This was an important event because it occurred in Rep. Wesco's district. LWVSBA Director of Administration Judy Bradford testified at this meeting and her testimony received a spontaneous round of applause from other attendees. Despite being made aware of citizen support for the bill, Rep. Wesco refused it a hearing, thereby depriving the committee and the House of the opportunity to be educated on the bill and register their support or dissent through a public vote.

Moving Forward: The coalition will continue its advocacy efforts. Public education is critical and ongoing consciousness raising is imperative. The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting would NOT exist without the support of the LWVIN and the courageous, tenacious, persistent and brilliant work of the local leagues. Encouraged and guided by LWVIN Redistricting Advocate Debbie Asberry, members from local leagues from around the state consistently showed up for rallies, marches, and legislative days at the Statehouse. They also wrote countless LTEs and articles in local newspapers, organized gerrymander meanders, hosted informational meetings, attended Third House meetings, met with their legislators, sent postcards, sent emails, made phone calls, etc. Whenever a call went out, the League showed up! The League encourages all members to stay engaged in this process! The June 2019 Supreme Court ruling taking the federal courts out of the redistricting process makes it more important than ever for ordinary citizens to demand change at the state level. Even the Chief Justice, writing for the majority, recognized the fact that democratic principles are violated by extreme partisan gerrymandering. The Court left it to the political process to resolve these problems and to ensure the future of free and fair elections in the United States.

The LWVIN invites all Hoosiers to join us in this effort!

Resources

The LWVUS Redistricting Task Force has developed a wealth of useful articles and additional resources you can find here

REDISTRICTING REFORM PETITION: Download this petition and get as many people to sign it as possible. Please send it in by (mailing address is on the petition) the first week of 2019 Redistricting Reform Petition

AND HERE'S A NEW TOOL that shows how the problem has evolved over the years: Gerrymandering Scores by State.

Also, see:

House Party Guide

LWV Indiana Redistricting FAQ

and

LWV Indiana Redistricting Glossary

Articles from the Washington Post include:

This is the Best Explanation of Gerrymandering You Will Ever See

This is How to Get Rid of Gerrymandered Districts

Trump Can't Stop the Freedom Caucus. He Has GOP Gerrymandering to Blame

If you need a quick resource to explain redistricting and the work of the Interim Study Committee, this Power Point presentation has been very helpful. There are just a few slides and you can present it in 15 minutes or less. There are a few `speaker's notes' for some of the slides to help with the presentation, so be sure to check out the `view notes page' if you need a few helpful hints on how to talk about the slides. If you have any questions, contact Debbie Asberry at redistricting@lwvindy.org

Drawing a Line for Democracy: Resources to help you take action.

Leagues around the State have been asking their local governmental bodies ( mayors, city councils, chambers of commerce, etc.) to sponsor a Redistricting Resolution to show support for an Independent Redistricting Commission.

Model language for such resolutions can be found here..

Our own LWV of the South Bend Area has developed a fantastic tri-fold flyer to help with education efforts surrounding the importance of redistricting. A color version can be found here. A black and white version can be found here

Learn more about why removing legislators from the redistricting process is critical for protecting Democracy. Watch this short movie "Gerrymandering 101"

Compiled by our League of Greater Lafayette of clips from Jeff Reichert's movie from Green Film Company. Learn more about the entire movie here

2017 Gerrymander Meanders

This summer, Leagues around the state are raising awareness for redistricting reform.

Bloomington's Meander, Summer 2017
Statehouse Rally


News coverage from Evansville's Meander
Courier & Press Article

44News WEVV Article