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Critics look to pressure GOP over Indiana redistricting

A coalition of activist groups announced a new push Monday against what it called partisan gerrymandering by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature.

Posted: Dec 1, 2020 10:07 AM

A coalition of activist groups announced a new push Monday against what it called partisan gerrymandering by Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature.

Coalition leaders said they would form a citizens commission that will hold virtual town hall meetings in January and February and propose new voting districts to the General Assembly before lawmakers approve new congressional and legislative district maps next year using 2020 census information.

Those advocating for a revamp of Indiana’s redistricting procedures have failed over several years to find support among Republicans whose full-supermajority command of the Indiana Legislature came about after they gained total control over redrawing those maps 10 years ago.

The coalition of some 25 groups, including Common Cause Indiana, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, said they hoped public pressure would force Republicans not to draw new voting districts behind closed doors.

“The General Assembly won’t do it— we understand the motivations why they won’t do it,” said Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana’s policy director. “So we’re creating this parallel, this shadow, process that will demonstrate to Hoosiers and the Legislature alike that there is a way to do this in the public interest, out in the open so that everybody can see.”

Indiana has not followed other states creating independent commissions or other steps aimed at combating partisan gerrymandering, which occurs when politicians draw voting districts to give themselves or their political parties an advantage in future elections.

Critics maintain that has helped Indiana Republicans gain outsized power in the Legislature— where they now hold a 39-11 Senate majority and a 71-29 House command. Republicans have also locked in a 7-2 majority of Indiana’s congressional seats since the 2012 election with the GOP-drawn maps.

Republican House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray have both said the Legislature will hold public hearings around the state ahead of redistricting decisions but have shown no signs of backing changes in the map-drawing process. Huston said lawmakers will have “a very open process to the public”

“The only thing I will note about gerrymandering is that it is in the eyes of the beholder,” Huston said. “I’m hopeful when we’re done people can say those maps make sense.”

A member of the All IN for Democracy coalition said gerrymandering has allowed the Legislature to take steps such as approving an electric utility-backed bill to eliminate much of the financial incentive available to Indiana residents and businesses who install solar panels.

“When one party can do anything it wants without input from the other, the special interests can zero in on that party in charge and get almost anything they want on a routine basis,” said Bryce Gustafson, program organizer for the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 1011197

Reported Deaths: 16524
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1359292129
Lake666181167
Allen58254802
Hamilton46498467
St. Joseph44559617
Elkhart36044510
Vanderburgh32333481
Tippecanoe28037260
Johnson25196446
Hendricks23960360
Porter22985367
Madison18820410
Clark18609253
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Monroe15319200
LaPorte15230252
Delaware15127264
Howard14801290
Kosciusko12410149
Hancock11773176
Bartholomew11695180
Warrick11305189
Floyd11138215
Wayne11023253
Grant10131220
Morgan9506177
Boone8965116
Dubois8281131
Henry8252153
Dearborn823493
Noble8064106
Marshall7981135
Cass7556123
Lawrence7479172
Shelby7216119
Jackson700990
Gibson6614115
Harrison651892
Huntington6447100
Knox6427106
DeKalb6363100
Montgomery6293112
Miami595298
Putnam584179
Clinton579271
Whitley568455
Steuben566876
Wabash5363104
Jasper536180
Jefferson513297
Ripley501987
Adams483777
Daviess4684115
Scott439875
Greene427296
Clay426960
Wells426088
White420964
Decatur4177104
Fayette407387
Jennings390262
Posey377544
LaGrange361778
Washington360451
Randolph3476100
Spencer340743
Fountain336160
Sullivan330852
Starke319171
Owen315571
Fulton313468
Orange295064
Jay285546
Franklin266443
Perry265752
Rush263832
Carroll262434
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Parke232029
Pike229643
Tipton229059
Blackford195042
Pulaski184657
Crawford160125
Newton159848
Benton151217
Brown147047
Martin139319
Switzerland135311
Warren121416
Union107216
Ohio84613
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