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Monday, September 28, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana redistricting panel on Thursday starts important task"

The Indianapolis Star in its Sunday edition ran this letter from Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana and Deborah Asberry, League of Women Voters of Indiana:

On Thursday, an important process will begin that could usher in a new era for government of, by and for the people of Indiana.

The newly formed Special Interim Committee on Redistricting will have its first meeting and begin the task of considering alternatives to the current redistricting process, which allows politicians to choose their voters instead of the other way around.

When legislative districts are drawn by politicians, a primary motive is to protect incumbents as well as to ensure political victories for the party in power. When lines are drawn to favor a political party, the process is called gerrymandering. Gerrymandered districts contribute to uncontested or uncompetitive elections and voters becoming increasingly cynical and apathetic. It’s a major reason for the dysfunction we see in both Washington, D.C., and our state Capitol.

The study committee was created by legislation passed this year and includes both legislators, laymen and laywomen. The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting is pleased that the legislative leadership listened to redistricting reform advocates and appointed reform-friendly citizens to the committee.

It is notable that Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma of Indianapolis reached across party lines and chose former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm, a Democrat, for his layman appointment. Boehm is a great pick; his experience with redistricting goes back five decades and includes firsthand experience as both an attorney and a judge. There are important constitutional questions at hand, so his background and expertise will be invaluable.

By choosing to appoint the best person for the study committee job, regardless of political affiliation, the speaker has shown he is serious about redistricting reform and wants the committee to prioritize the interests of voters, not the two major political parties. It’s a tremendously encouraging sign and the speaker deserves our thanks for his bold move.

But this process won’t be complete without citizen involvement. All study committee meetings will be public and the first one will be at 9 a.m. Thursday in Room 404 of the Statehouse. It’s important for people to show up to send a clear message to the committee that its work is important and highly anticipated. If you can’t be there in person, the meeting will also be webcast on the General Assembly’s website.

The committee will spend more than a year on its task, with a recommendation due by Jan. 1, 2017. With enough citizen support and strong leadership from the committee members, it could be the dawn of a new day for democratic elections in our state.

ILB: The Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting was created by HEA 1003.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 28, 2015 07:54 AM
Posted to Indiana Government