Indiana should let citizens play key role in redistricting

A citizen-led redistricting commission would be good for Indiana and its voters, says former Elkhart Mayor Jim Perron.

Written by Former Elkhart Mayor Jim Perron on May 6, 2016


Jim Perron

Indiana has an historic opportunity over the next two to three years to dramatically enhance citizen confidence in state government – if there is the will to do so.

Last year legislation was enacted establishing a Special Interim Committee on Redistricting. This is a bipartisan group which includes both legislators and citizen members. It has met once so far but is set to resume its work this month.

Call to Action

The Special Interim Committee should be called upon and encouraged to draft a strong reform proposal which should include a citizen-led redistricting commission that will draw districts according to a set of statutory guidelines. Reform of the redistricting process before the next round of maps are drawn in 2021 is critical to the future of the electoral process.

The current procedure allows legislators to draw their own districts and reduces public confidence. It is too often seen as politicians choosing their voters rather than voters choosing who will represent them. A citizen’s led commission would remove this perceived conflict of interest and help rebuild public trust.

End Gerrymandering

Currently counties, cities and neighborhoods are allowed to be divided for partisan political reasons reducing the ability for citizens to be heard in our state and national capitols. Keeping communities of interest whole is an important goal in redistricting and preserving communities of interest can and will be better achieved through a citizen-led redistricting process.

The commission should be composed of Indiana voters who are representative of our state’s diversity, partisan balance, and geography for all future redistricting. This commission should oversee the process to draw the lines of our State Senate, House, and Congressional districts.

The redistricting process led by the commission should be transparent and with full opportunities for public participation. All redistricting plan information should be available in a timely fashion and free of charge via a public website and other means. The public should be given ample notice to participate and meetings should be held in at least three different geographic regions of the state.

A New Day for Indiana

The work of the Special Interim Committee on Redistricting has the potential to launch a new day in Indiana politics – one where the people have a real say in how and those districts are drawn for the public interest, not partisan reasons.

Jim Perron is former Mayor of Elkhart. He serves on the board of directors of Common Cause Indiana, an advocacy group for good government. View the op-ed online here

Office: Common Cause Indiana, Common Cause National

Issues: Voting and Elections, Redistricting Reform

Tags: Redistricting, Voting and Elections

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