INDIANAPOLIS — Today in federal court, Common Cause Indiana, the League of Women Voters of Indiana, and the Madison County NAACP filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in their lawsuit against Anderson, Indiana’s Common Council. The injunction was filed in response to the council’s failure to redistrict by the Dec. 31, 2022 deadline imposed by state law.
The groups filed litigation earlier this summer as a result of the current Anderson council districts being significantly malapportioned, with a 45% population deviation between the largest and smallest district. Courts have held that more than a 10% deviation violates the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote”.
The motion requests that the court issue an order declaring the current Common Council districts unconstitutional, as they violate the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution. The motion also asks that the districts be redrawn to be relatively equal in population. Finally, the motion requests the court to shorten the terms of those Council members elected in 2023 and order a special election for Common Council be held next year, in conjunction with regularly scheduled elections for state and federal offices.
“The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment requires that all who participate in an election have an equal vote,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana. “Currently, that is not the case in elections for the Anderson Common Council. Each vote cast in the most over-populated district, District 3, is only worth about two-thirds of a vote cast in District 4, the smallest one. That kind of blatant inequality cannot be ignored, and we implore the court to correct it, since the Anderson Council refused to do so.”
“The city of Anderson was one of only two second class cities that failed to complete redistricting last year,” said Linda Hanson, president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana. “The Council has made a variety of excuses about their failure to draw new maps, but no excuse is acceptable; a new Council map must be drawn that gives everyone in Anderson an equal say in city elections.”
Larry McClendon, president of the Madison County NAACP, said: “Continuing to allow elections to be held under this malapportioned map sends the message to voters in this community that fair representation doesn’t matter. We brought this challenge to ensure that the local government in Anderson gives everyone an equal vote and an equal voice in city government.”