The state is set to release new district maps for the first time in a decade, setting the tone for Indiana politics for years to come.
INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, Hoosiers will get a first look at a first draft of U.S. House of Representatives and Indiana House of Representatives district maps.
It’s a decade-long reshuffle that will set the tone for Hoosier and State House politics for another decade.
Amid a coronavirus pandemic that has blocked the U.S. census, voter rights advocates have had the chance to mobilize citizens in one of America’s most gerrymandered states. Over the past several months, those responsible for redistribution reform have worked to engage voters and push lawmakers to create maps that are truly representative of Indiana’s changing demographics.
Julia Vaughn is the Executive Director of Common Cause. This congressional reshuffle is her third, and she has never seen the public so engaged.
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“It tells me a few things – it tells me we’ve done a good job of going out and educating people and organizing them. But it also tells me that these districts that were drawn 10 years ago were really extreme. I had a total impact on voters. They are disappointed with the job their members of Congress and the state legislature are doing. They are concerned about the extreme tone that is being taken by so many in politics at the national level and state And they now understand how this is facilitated by gerrymandering, ”Vaughn said.
This week, two of the three hearings will take place during which citizens can voice their opinion on the maps before they become official.
Here are some terms and dates to know before these public hearings:
Redistribution is the ten-year process of redistributing legislative constituencies after the release of the US census.
In Indiana, the state legislature is responsible for redesigning these legislative districts.
Indiana was divided into 9 districts following the 2010 redistribution.
What is gerrymandering?
It’s a decades-old practice used by lawmakers from all walks of life to gain an advantage over the opposing party on election day.
Gerrymandering is the act of manipulating the maps of Congress or legislative districts in a way that gives that cartographer’s party disproportionate power as a result.
What does the census have to do with redistribution?
The legislator uses census data to redraw legislative constituencies, which is why they are redrawn every ten years.
The Indiana General Assembly originally planned to address the redistribution in March or April 2021. Due to delays at the US Census Bureau due to the pandemic, the necessary data was not available.
The US Census Bureau provided the census data needed by states to complete the redistribution process on August 12.
What data from this year’s census might affect the new district maps?
There are a few key takeaways from census data.
- Indiana is more diverse now than in the 2010 census.
- In general, rural counties have lost population.
- More urban counties have grown in population, especially in the metro Indianapolis area.
All of these changes should, if the maps are drawn fairly, have an impact on the new legislative constituencies.
Is Gerrymandering a Problem in Indiana?
A report commissioned by Women 4 Change in June said that the Indiana General Assembly and legislative maps are now more biased in favor of a party than 95% of maps passed in other states in America.
Dr Chris Warshaw is Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University and commissioned the Women 4 Change study.
His work focuses on partisan gerrymandering and he has analyzed data from almost all 50 states for his research.
He found Indiana to be an extreme outlier.
Given the qualified majority in the Statehouse, voter rights organizations in Indiana have said they fear lawmakers may not be pressured into drawing the cards in a way that is truly representative of the state. Indiana.
The way the Republican-led legislature conducted the redistribution process drew criticism from bipartisan redistribution reform advocates, Democrats and independent commissions.
“[The process] is rushed through the public given very little time to analyze, to study the maps before being asked to testify publicly. There are no plans for additional hearings in the state. So if you want to have a say in the redistribution, you will have to go to the state house. And for most people, they should take time off work because these hearings, again, are at 1 p.m. and 10 a.m. during normal business hours for most of us. So unfortunately the transparency and open process that the public is asking for is not what the General Assembly is about to give us, ”Vaughn said.
What Can I Do To Stand Up For Fair Cards In Indiana?
While lawmakers technically have until Nov. 15 to formalize the cards, Republican lawmakers have made it clear they want to speed up this process.
There are currently two hearings scheduled for the maps.
One will take place on September 15 at 1 p.m. The other will take place on September 16 at 10 a.m.
The Senate card hearings will take place on September 27 at the State House.
Written testimony can be shared by emailing State Senator Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), Chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or the representative of the ‘State Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), Chairman of the House Committee on Elections and Allocation, at email@example.com.
You can also contact your legislator at any time to provide them with your comments. Click here to find your state senator or representative.
The Indiana General Assembly also provides an online map drawing portal for Hoosiers to draw and submit their proposed new district boundaries to the United States House of Representatives, Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate.
The web portal contains all of the same census and election data that lawmakers will have access to when they draw the new maps of Statehouse and congressional districts.
The link to the portal can be found here: https://indistricting.iga.in.gov/