The LWVSWIN Redistricting Committee usually meets on the second Thursday of each month at
3:30 pm in the small conference room at Central Library. Their next meeting is April 11, 2019.
Letter: We need a plan for fair redistricting
is the next census. That means WE, the citizens of Indiana, need to keep the pressure on our state legislature to move legislation
that will put an independent, transparent, fair Redistricting Commission in place for the redistricting that will occur in
2021. Indeed, this past year even Gov. Holcomb noted that Indiana should reform its redistricting procedure. YOU need to contact
your Indiana state Senator and Representative.
Because of redistricting decisions made in 2011, many districts in Indiana are
non-competitive within and/or between parties, which means we do not get to choose who represents us. Instead, the legislators
drew the districts in their favor and, chose who can vote for them. It also means, because they have “safe (i.e., non-competitive)
districts” that they can pursue their own legislative agendas and ignore action on the bills that many, if not most,
of their constituents favor.
League of Women Voters Indiana, Common Cause Indiana, Hoosier Environmental Council,
WOMEN4CHANGE, and many other groups are working together for non-partisan, fair, and transparent redistricting. Cities and
counties, including Evansville and Vanderburgh County, have endorsed resolutions supporting Redistricting Reform.
This year three redistricting bills have been submitted. SB91, the most comprehensive
of the three bills, proposes a.) establishing a redistricting commission to create, take public input on, and recommend plans
to redraw general assembly and congressional districts; b.) creating a redistricting commission nominating committee to evaluate
applicants for the five non-legislative seats on the proposed commission; and c.) establishing standards to govern the commission
and the agency that will create the redistricting plans. SB91 also provides for a meeting of the General assembly to enact
the redistricting plans before October 1 of the redistricting year, 2021, i.e. the year following the decennial census. It
would repeal the current law. SB91 is not perfect but is an improvement over the current procedure in which the party “in
power” in the state legislature draws the district lines.
Stay informed, write to, email, and talk
with your Indiana House and Senate legislators to encourage their support for legislation that establishes a nonpartisan,
independent, transparent Redistricting Commission and procedure during the 2019 legislative session. The address for all state
legislators is 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; phone numbers are available at iga.in.gov then “find your
legislator”. Talk to them in person at Meet Your Legislators and the Town Halls.
- Meg Connolly
and Deb Schade, League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana (Evansville Courier & Press February 7, 2019)
SAMPLE LETTER TO LEGISLATORS
An LWVSWIN resolution
calling for an independent redistricting commission in Indiana was passed by the Evansville
City Council on 9/11/17. The Vanderburgh County Commissioners passed a similar
resolution on 10/3/17.
CLICK FOR A PDF OF REDISTRICTING RESOLUTION
CLICK FOR A PDF OF THE COUNTY REDISTRICTING RESOLUTION
DOWNLOAD A REDISTRICTING BROCHURE
WEBB: TOURING OUR GERRYMANDERED DISTRICT
Webb walked with people taking part in the state’s first Gerrymander Meander
by Jon Webb, email@example.com published in the Evansville Courier & Press July 11, 2017
Julia Vaughn stood in front a packed conference room at St. Lucas United Church of Christ, talking about the birthday
boy. “Elbridge Gerry should be remembered as an American patriot,” she said. “But
The signer of the Declaration of Independence / vice
president / powdered-wig enthusiast is the namesake for “gerrymandering”: the act of slicing political districts
into politically advantageous shapes. He was born July 17, 1744, and the crowd at UCC gathered on Monday for two reasons:
to kind-of ironically honor his birthday, and to protest the very thing that made him famous. hey even had cake
Several dozen folks – from older women to chatty kids -- took part
in the state’s first Gerrymander Meander, put on by the League of Women Voters. From St. Lucas, volunteers walked
through Jimtown in 90-degree heat, sweat stains darkening t-shirts that advocated for a fair electoral system.
Vaughn, the policy director for Common Cause Indiana, drove from Indianapolis for the event. She’ll turn
up in Bloomington for another Meander on Saturday, all leading to a “big rally” at the statehouse on July 17.
She worked with local League of Women Voters reps Kathy Solecki and Ann Ennis to put the shindig together.
She said that while the latest batch of redistricting gave Republicans a massive advantage in the state legislature,
the issue itself is nonpartisan. The majority party in Indiana reworks districts after each census.
“Both parties are guilty of gerrymandering. Democrats have done it, Republicans have done it,”
she said. “It just so happened that in 2011, Republicans, for the first time in 20 years, controlled the entire process
because they controlled both chambers. And you can see the evidence of that in election results.”
Republicans boast 70 of the 100 seats in the House. Before the last redistricting, Democrats
controlled the House eight out of 10 years between 2000 and 2010. And in the Senate, well, “blood
bath” only does it justice if the bather is an African elephant. As of this year, the GOP controls 41 of the 50 seats.
“Redistricting reform won’t turn a red state blue or turn a blue state red. But what it will do is more
clearly represent the will of the voters,” she said. “We are a Republican state, but we’re not an 80 percent
After Vaughn’s talk, walkers flooded the jagged sidewalks
of Jimtown. Solecki seemed to be everywhere, pointing out gnarly bulges in the concrete and asking everyone to watch
their step. On Baker Avenue, a shirtless fellow twinkling with sweat noticed the large group carrying bright neon signs
and stepped down from his porch.
“What are you all doing?” he asked.
“Gerrymandering!” a walker answered.
“Oh,” he said.
Re-Districting Reform Event with a Twist:
Gerrymander Meander 2017
of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana and St. Lucas UCC invited the
local community of all ages, races, ethnicities, creeds, and genders
to learn about and improve the power of a vote.
WHAT: Options including taking a 2.1 mile “meander”
along cthe hoppy boundary of IN House Districts 77 and 78; or remaining at St. Lucas Church to learn
more about how Indiana district lines are drawn for elections.
WHEN: Monday, July 10 from
WHERE: St. Lucas UCC, 33 W Virginia St., Evansville.
WHY: Indiana state voting district
rules allow legislators in power to draw voting districts. Hundreds of groups
and thousands of people around the state are pushing for non-partisan
This event raises awareness on the topic.
And More WHY: Elbridge Gerry – the dubious
and infamous father of Gerry-mandering was born in July. We walked in his dust.
Letter to the Evansville C&P Editor: Keep redistricting hopes alive (published
in the Evansville Courier February 24, 2017)
Citizens plan to continue to fight for an Independent, nonpartisan
Redistricting Commission in Indiana and to make the 2018 session of the Indiana legislature a referendum on redistricting
Many districts around the state are non-competitive. Often our citizens do not have a true choice of candidates,
either within or between parties.
In Indiana The League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Hoosier Environmental Council,
Citizens Action Coalition, Enterprise Republicans, Women 4 Change, Friends Committee on Legislation, and others, are committed
to helping ensure that redistricting is done in a non-partisan, fair, and transparent way. In addition to the cities
and counties in Indiana that have passed resolutions endorsing redistricting reform, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
recently endorsed the resolution for redistricting reform.
Indiana House Bill 1014 was the redistricting reform
bill (co-sponsored by Speaker Brian Bosma (R) and Rep. Jerry Torr (R) that followed recommendations of the Special Interim
Study Committee on Redistricting Reform which met during 2016. As reported in a Courier Press article 2-20-17, HB1014
was heard in committee on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 but not brought to the floor for a vote. What is encouraging
is that a committee member who had been unsure about the bill indicated that the great citizen support he witnessed led to
a decision to support it, had a vote been held. Were others willing to support the bill also? We have been deprived
of knowing how OUR representatives would have voted.
We encourage you to stay informed and to talk with both your Indiana
House and Senate legislators to encourage their support for legislation establishing a nonpartisan redistricting commission
during the 2018 legislative session.
from Meg Connolly, Chairperson of the Redistricting Committee of the League
of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana
Democracy is not a spectator sport. This has been the motto of the League of Women Voters and one of the reasons we
have chosen to focus on the issue of redistricting for the remainder of this decade.
Over and over we hear people say “My vote doesn’t matter/count” or “Why
should I vote, no one represents my views/concerns.” Why do so many voters believe these things – and more
importantly, are they right? The current redistricting process may be at fault. Redistricting occurs by law every 10
years following the census. It has been the privilege of whichever party holds the power in most state legislatures, including
Indiana. (Some exceptions exist in Western states such as Arizona and California where the constitutions allow for citizen
goal of redistricting is to ensure the “one person, one vote” requirement of the US Constitution’s equal
protection guarantee, as upheld by the 1960’s Supreme Court. However, redistricting has become an exercise in
politicians selecting their constituents (Gerrymandering) rather than districts in which voters have meaningful choices when
electing their representatives. Legislators carve out districts that will ensure the re-election of incumbents. This
has resulted in discouraging individuals from running for office and parties from slating a candidate in such districts, i.e.,
an increasing number of uncontested elections.
Additionally, voter turnout has been decreasing in both primary and general elections. In Indiana, in the
2014 General Election for example, the average voter turnout was 30 percent. (In the 1990 General Election turnout was
56.7percent.) Primary and Off Year election turnouts tended to be even lower. Meaningful competition is more likely
to excite the electorate and lead to a larger turnout resulting in the election of representatives who represent different
viewpoints but will work together to reach reasonable compromise in doing the community’s business.
The 2015 Indiana General Assembly voted to support
the formation of a Redistricting Study Committee, making good on a promise made during the 2014 session. So far only
a few members have been appointed to this committee. We urge the timely appointment of remaining members with the intent
to have a knowledgeable, diverse, and impartial committee that has sufficient time to generate meaningful redistricting guidelines
and a transparent redistricting system.
In Indiana the state constitution charges the legislature with the final task of redistricting but doesn’t
specify how it is to be accomplished. Serious consideration of the recommendations of the Redistricting Study Committee
could lead to more competitive and meaningful elections with greater voter participation, i.e., a truly democratic election
Signed by the Board of the League of Women Voters of Southwestern Indiana:
Toni Beumer, Meg Connolly, Roberta Heiman, Pam Locker, Deborah Schade, Lezlie Simmons, and Kathy Solecki