Chesterton Tribune

 

 

County Commissioner John Evans Voice of the People

Back To Front Page

Some people have raised questions about the fairness and process of redistricting of the Porter County Council districts. The fact is that the Commissioners were legally bound to redistrict. And, failing to do so would have been unfair to the people of Porter County, and especially to the citizens of the Duneland area.

Under the old district lines, District One (Duneland area) had a population of 43,169 and District Two (Portage area) had a population of 38,925. That was a difference of over 4,200, or 10.4% between our largest district and smallest district. The Duneland area District was the most under-represented, leaving the Duneland citizens with LESS than “one person, one vote". And, the Portage area District was the most over-represented, leaving them with MORE than “one person, one vote.” How is that fair?

The US Supreme Court has found that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment embodies a “one person, one vote principle” which requires that a State make an honest and good faith effort to construct districts which are as nearly of equal population as practicable. Indiana law states that the districts must have equal populations as nearly as possible. It is the legal duty of the Commissioners to assure that the citizens in council districts have equal representation as nearly as possible. Some have inferred that our current districts, with a 10.4 percent variance between the largest and smallest, are “good enough”. Well, under the law, “good enough” is not good enough.

Indiana law says that we must either redistrict, or certify that existing districts contain equal population, as nearly as possible. With a 10.4% population variance, the Commissioners cannot ignore the law and recertify districts that we know are NOT equal in population as nearly as possible. Our ONLY choice was to redistrict now or leave the county open to a lawsuit.

In compliance with state law, the new districts are equal in population, as nearly as possible. There is only a 3.19% variance between the population of the largest and smallest districts, vastly improved from the 10.4% difference that some said was good enough. Nine of the 12 townships are undivided between districts. Porter County’s population has grown by over 17,500 since the last redistricting.

Nearly 54% of that growth was in Portage, Center and Westchester townships. Without dividing those townships, it was impossible to achieve equal population among the districts, as nearly as possible. As much as possible, communities of interest were respected. Some have falsely stated that this was a rushed process. The Commissioners first considered redistricting in December, 2011. It was delayed at the request of the Democrat director of Voters Registration. When it was raised again at the January, 2012 meeting, we were informed that we could not redistrict in an even numbered year. It was raised again at our October 15th meeting of this year, nearly two months ago. The district council members have had nearly two years to provide their input.

Yet, not one of them ever called me to request a meeting to discuss it.

Finally, redistricting does NOT take away anyone’s right to run for office. It does NOT impede anyone’s right to vote. But it DOES assure, as much as possible, that the voice of every citizen carries equal weight in selecting their county council district representative. After all, that is what the US Constitution and Indiana law requires and our citizens deserve.

John Evans

County Commissioner

 

 

Posted 12/20/2013