Redistricting deserves attention

To the editor:

In 2020, the United States will undertake the Census per Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States.

Why be concerned now? The Census and resulting apportionment or redistricting process, which occurs every decade, determines whom, you the voter, elect to represent you in the U. S. Congress, state Legislature, and other local elected offices.

The Indiana Legislature will determine the configuration of the Congressional districts as well as the size and shape of the Indiana House and Senate districts.

During the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly House Bill 1014, the Redistricting Commission was heard in the Elections and Apportionment Committee. After nearly two hours of testimony in support of the bill (there was one individual in opposition,) it was summarily dismissed by Milo Smith, committee chair.

The supporters of redistricting reform were disappointed by this action. The Constitution of the State of Indiana, Article I, Title 2 of the Indiana Code defines apportionment. Criteria for drawing the maps is missing.

In October, the Supreme Court of the United States heard a case from Wisconsin that challenged the redistricting process of that state, gerrymandering being the issue under consideration.

A new method has been devised that detects when one party has won or retained a seat due to lines drawn by that party. The methodology was cited in the Wisconsin case. Both major political parties are guilty of gerrymandering, using it to draw maps to gain the advantage to elect more representatives at various levels of government.

What does gerrymandering do to democracy? Low voter turnout (Indiana is in the bottom in this category) — why bother to vote when there aren’t competitive races; it stifles competition (what happened to the two-party system?); it divides communities of interest (including communities of color, culture, ethnicity, etc.). Redistricting is complicated. Good redistricting results in meaningful representation for all.

The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting has organized to address concerns surrounding the redistricting process.

The League of Women Voters of Indiana and Common Cause Indiana are co-founders of the coalition. Julia Vaughn, policy director, Common Cause, will lead a discussion on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center at Hancock Regional Hospital.

The forum will focus on how and why Indiana needs an independent redistricting commission, how the Wisconsin case could affect Indiana’s redistricting process and other issues around apportionment and the democratic process. All living in and around Hancock County are invited.

Paulette Vandegriff