ANDERSON, IN — Today, several voting rights organizations joined two Anderson, Ind. residents in filing a federal lawsuit against the city’s Common Council for failing to draw new maps before the Dec. 31, 2022 redistricting deadline.
The suit highlights the Common Council’s inaction in the lead up to the deadline. Following the decennial Census, the Council found that it needed to redraw the maps of six single-member districts within the city.
While Indiana law does not require state and local districts to be exactly equal in population, courts have held that more than a 10% deviation in district population may violate 14th Amendment equal protection. The districts in Anderson currently hold a 46% deviation. But despite the knowledge of this malapportionment, the Council voted not to engage in redistricting.
As a result, two citizens — as well as Common Cause Indiana, the Anderson-Madison County NAACP branch, and the League of Women Voters of Indiana — decided to sue. In court documents, the plaintiffs outlined that these maps have resulted in a dilution of voter power, particularly following a primary held despite the maps not being redrawn.
The plaintiffs are seeking an order that a remedial plan that complies with the equal population principles of the 14th Amendment be put into effect.
“Just as we hold our leaders at the top accountable, we must do the same for our local leaders,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana. “Local redistricting carries weight, and the council’s decision not to approve a redistricting plan and hold a primary election will dilute the voices of thousands of Anderson citizens. We must demand that the Council create maps that prioritize people over politics.”
“Redistricting should be done in a way that ensures all citizens, regardless of their race, are represented by the local government. It is only through a fair redistricting process, grounded in racial equity, that the voices of all citizens can be heard. We must continue this challenge to secure a racially equitable outcome so that our local government is truly representative of its people.” said Larry McClendon, President of the Anderson-Madison County NAACP branch.
“Local redistricting cannot be the forgotten mandate,” said Linda Hanson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana. “There is no question that Anderson City Council failed to meet their obligation to reapportion their six districts. Decisions made by the City Council directly impact the lives of Andersonians, and their maps must be redrawn to give each resident an equal voice.”
The plaintiffs will be represented by Indianapolis attorneys William Groth and Daniel Bowman of Bowman & Vlink, LLC
To view a copy of the filing, click here.