Citizens Redistricting Commission Sends Report to the General Assembly: What the Public Wants for Redistricting in 2021
- Julia Vaughn 317-432-3264 JVaughn@commoncause.org
When the Indiana General Assembly returns late this summer to draw new districts for Congress and the state legislature, a new report by the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) documents how the public wants a more transparent process that gives them real opportunities to participate and that results in an increase in the number of competitive districts. The report also shows how the public wants more emphasis on keeping communities of interest together in the same district and want to see fewer counties, cities and towns divided into multiple districts.
The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) is a multi-partisan group of Hoosiers assembled by the All IN for Democracy coalition to model how redistricting should be done. The ICRC held ten virtual public hearings to take public testimony regarding what criteria Hoosiers believe should drive the redistricting process and to identify communities of interest around the state. The ICRC report was sent to the legislative leadership earlier this week and redistricting activists will soon begin lobbying legislators to follow its recommendations.
“Almost nine hundred Hoosiers took part in the virtual public hearings the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission held earlier this year. We heard a diverse set of voices from communities that are a great distance from one another but where gerrymandering has caused similar problems: divided communities, disenchanted voters and growing apathy about civic participation. Hoosiers are calling for a very different kind of redistricting this year and the Commission’s report outlines what the public wants and how the General Assembly can make it happen.” – Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana Policy Director and a co-founder of the All IN for Democracy coalition
“For many years the decennial activity of drawing new districts for Congress and the state legislature was an insiders-only affair; done behind closed doors as quickly as possible with little to no public input. This year must be different because so much is at stake. We urge the leadership of the Indiana General Assembly and all legislators to carefully consider the recommendations outlined in our report. Hoosiers want a more transparent redistricting process that gives them real opportunities to help shape the new maps and that results in districts that serve the needs of voters and communities and not politicians.” – Sonia Leerkamp, the Chairperson of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission and is a Neither Republican nor Democrat member of the group
“My top takeaways from our public meetings are that too many Hoosiers believe their votes don’t count, too many legislators aren’t responsive to their voters because they don’t have to be and scores of young Hoosiers plan to leave our state because they don’t find the political process in Indiana welcomes their beliefs. As a Republican member of the ICRC, I am deeply concerned with this. I believe that our report contains practical and important remedies. For example, we heard repeatedly about my district, HD 50, in Huntington and Allen counties. The Latinx community has been tacked on to HD50, along with Fort Wayne residents and a large swath of rural voters. In the 2021 redistricting, let’s avoid dividing communities of interest and weakening their vote.” – Marilyn Moran Townsend, a Republican ICRC member
“When taking public testimony, we heard over and over again that people felt their votes don’t matter and their voices aren’t heard. Where the lines are drawn absolutely impacts turnout, as more people are motivated to vote when elections are competitive. All members of the General Assembly should heed the testimony we heard, strive to keep important communities of interest together and seek input on the new maps from their constituents. An open and active process will lead to more competitive districts and more engaged voters. Indiana lawmakers must address our state’s abysmal voter turnout statistics and redistricting is the place to start.” – Ranjan Rohatgi, a Democratic ICRC member
To view the ICRC report, click here.