A coalition of
activist groups announced a new push Monday against what it called partisan
gerrymandering by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature.
said they would form a citizens commission that will hold virtual town hall
meetings in January and February and propose new voting districts to the
General Assembly before lawmakers approve new congressional and legislative
district maps next year using 2020 census information.
for a revamp of Indiana’s redistricting procedures have failed over several
years to find support among Republicans whose full-supermajority command of
the Indiana Legislature came about after they gained total control over
redrawing those maps 10 years ago.
The coalition of
some 25 groups, including Common Cause Indiana, the NAACP and the League of
Women Voters, said they hoped public pressure would force Republicans not to
draw new voting districts behind closed doors.
Assembly won’t do it- we understand the motivations why they won’t do it,”
said Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana’s policy director. “So we’re
creating this parallel, this shadow, process that will demonstrate to
Hoosiers and the Legislature alike that there is a way to do this in the
public interest, out in the open so that everybody can see.”
Indiana has not
followed other states creating independent commissions or other steps aimed
at combating partisan gerrymandering, which occurs when politicians draw
voting districts to give themselves or their political parties an advantage
in future elections.
that has helped Indiana Republicans gain outsized power in the Legislature-
where they now hold a 39-11 Senate majority and a 71-29 House command.
Republicans have also locked in a 7-2 majority of Indiana’s congressional
seats since the 2012 election with the GOP-drawn maps.
Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray have both said
the Legislature will hold public hearings around the state ahead of
redistricting decisions but have shown no signs of backing changes in the
map-drawing process. Huston said lawmakers will have “a very open process to
“The only thing I
will note about gerrymandering is that it is in the eyes of the beholder,”
Huston said. “I’m hopeful when we’re done people can say those maps make
A member of the All
IN for Democracy coalition said gerrymandering has allowed the Legislature
to take steps such as approving an electric utility-backed bill to eliminate
much of the financial incentive available to Indiana residents and
businesses who install solar panels.
“When one party can
do anything it wants without input from the other, the special interests can
zero in on that party in charge and get almost anything they want on a
routine basis,” said Bryce Gustafson, program organizer for the Citizens
Action Coalition of Indiana.