ICRC Members Point Out Their Model Process Produced Maps to Benefit Voters and Communities
(Indianapolis) Today, members of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) called on leaders of the Indiana Senate to pass maps drawn by citizens as part of the ICRC mapping competition, instead of the maps passed last week by the Indiana House of Representatives. The ICRC members highlighted the differences between the process they conducted and that of the General Assembly. They argued that their transparent and public-focused process has produced maps that will better serve the interests of voters and communities than maps drawn under the hyper-partisan legislative process.
The ICRC members were joined by two of three first place winners of the mapping competition. Jorge Fernandez of Fort Wayne was the winner in the House of Representatives category and Greg Knott of Bloomington won first place in the Congressional category. The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission was formed by the All IN for Democracy Coalition to demonstrate how redistricting should be done: by a diverse and multi-partisan group of voters with no direct interest in the outcome of redistricting.
“Our community-led redistricting process has modeled what a fair, transparent and public-focused redistricting process should look like,” said Sonia Leerkamp, Chair of the ICRC. “We held public hearings and heard consistent testimony about what the public wanted. We turned that testimony into a report that became the parameters of the mapping competition. We challenged Hoosiers to draw maps that prioritized three key criteria: protect communities of interest, avoid dividing cities and counties into multiple districts and when possible, draw maps to enhance political competition. It was exciting to see so many Hoosiers get involved by drawing a map.”
“Our commission received more than 60 map submissions from voters across the state which shows that Hoosiers want a real say in how the new districts take shape,” said Marilyn Moran-Townsend, a Republican member of the ICRC. “It was fascinating to see how different priorities produced very different maps and this really underscores the need for full transparency in the redistricting process. The three maps that won in each category were drawn with different intent, clearly indicating that if mapmakers set out to achieve a specific goal, that’s what they will get. What’s important is that they are transparent about those goals and the data and information used to achieve them.”
On second reading in the Indiana House of Representatives last week, a map finalist in the State House category of the ICRC competition was offered as an amendment. While the amendment failed on a party-line vote, Citizens Commission members noted that the effort was an important statement about the need for a different way to conduct redistricting.
“We appreciate that some lawmakers recognize that maps drawn by the legislature will never have the full trust of all Hoosiers,” said Christopher Harris, an ICRC member representing independent voters. “It is clearly a conflict of interest for legislators to control redistricting and it’s unfortunate that the General Assembly did not pass reform when they had the opportunity. But they can make up for that missed opportunity by passing community-produced maps instead of the ones they are currently rushing through the process without enough transparency and public scrutiny.”
“Redistricting really matters and it’s important that legislators pass maps to benefit voters” Christopher Harris continued. “Our maps will better reflect the will of Indiana voters. Our maps will give voters more say in elections and protect communities of interest. And, because they were produced not by legislators but by citizens, we expect that voters will have more trust in the process.”
“These maps don’t belong to incumbents, they don’t belong to people running for office, they belong to the people of Indiana,” said Jorge Fernandez, the winner of the mapping competition for State House of Representatives. “The ICRC mapping competition was a great way for me, or any Hoosier, to show our elected officials that we can make important contributions to the redistricting process. I hope they will give my map, and the maps of the other winners, real consideration this week.”
All the map competition submissions can be found at Indiana Redistricting Portal (indiana-mapping.org).