INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Outnumbered Democrats in the Indiana House argued
Wednesday that the new election districts proposed by Republicans would lead
to fewer competitive races and create more solidly GOP seats.
House Democrats said their review of the proposed districts found 14
districts closely divided politically for the 100 House seats — down from
the current 24 — and that 10 of the 12 districts drawn without incumbents
are heavily Republican.
Several people who testified during a House elections committee hearing
Wednesday asked that the public have more time to study and comment on the
new districts that were released Monday.
Indianapolis resident Robin Olds said the redistricting maps made public
were too small for her to figure out which legislative district she would
Mooresville town council President George Watkins said he was worried that
few people knew about the proposals, such as having the suburban
Indianapolis community being split between two House districts.
“That is a concern for the four or five or six citizens of Mooresville that
are aware of it — and those are the ones I contacted myself last night,”
Republicans who control the Legislature plan to advance the redistricting
plan from the House and Senate elections committees this week and have new
maps for the state’s nine congressional, 50 state Senate and 100 state House
districts before the April 29 adjournment deadline.
Rep. John Bartlett of Indianapolis, the top Democrat on the House election
committee, said he was concerned about the lack of politically competitive
legislative districts and what appeared to be “packing” of minorities into
relatively few districts.
“We had people say they don’t want legislators picking their voters, they
want the voters to pick their legislators,” Bartlett said. “That’s a major
concern for us.”
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he didn’t know how the new
districts might influence election results for the House, which has a 60-40
GOP majority under maps drawn by Democrats 10 years ago.
“It’s not my focus to know what the political makeups of the districts are,”
Bosma said. “Our focus is to drawn commonsense districts.”
Democrats say their analysis of the GOP-proposed districts for the state
Senate show that at most 17 of the 50 districts having enough Democratic
voting strength to match their party’s statewide average in recent
elections. Republicans now have a commanding 37-13 majority in the Senate,
which they’ve controlled since the mid-1970s.
Members of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was formed
by several advocacy groups, gave the proposed maps positive reviews for
better compactness and keeping more counties and cities together than under
But they said the quickness that legislators are moving the plan would
prevent them from being able to know how competitive those districts might
be since little political information was available yet.
“The average person just isn’t engaged enough to look at a map and say
‘yeah, that’s good for me’ or not,” said Julia Vaughn, policy director for
the government watchdog group Common Cause/Indiana.
Indiana redistricting proposals: