SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts

Indiana redistricting critics keeping up push for changes

Critics of how Indiana politicians dice up the state for congressional and legislative districts know they are running out of time for changing that process with the once-a-decade U.S. census less than three months away.

Posted: Jan 13, 2020 2:18 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Critics of how Indiana politicians dice up the state for congressional and legislative districts know they are running out of time for changing that process with the once-a-decade U.S. census less than three months away.

Those advocating for a revamp of Indiana’s redistricting procedures have been frustrated for several years in attempts to find support among Republicans whose full-supermajority command of the Indiana Legislature came about after they gained total control over redrawing those maps following the 2010 census.

Although about one-quarter of the states use independent commissions or nonpartisan staff in redistricting procedures, Indiana has kept the process under which legislators can draw districts to the advantage of their political party — a practice known as gerrymandering that can help lock in a party’s political power for the next decade to come.

Critics maintain Republicans have gained outsized power in the Legislature — where they now hold a 40-10 Senate majority and a 67-33 House command — while winning the governor’s office with 51% of the 2016 vote and 49.5% in 2012.

Susan Davis, a retired high school English teacher from Bloomington, joined other activists at the Statehouse this past week as this year’s legislative session began, arguing Republicans gerrymandered the state “in an extreme way” and that Indiana is more evenly divided than it appears by looking at those holding office.

“No matter whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or somewhere in between, it’s not working very well,” she said. “It’s depressing voting and it’s curtailing debate, and that’s never a good thing.”

About a dozen other legislators stepped before those activists and signed a pledge from Common Cause Indiana supporting politically impartial redistricting standards. Most were Democrats, but Republican Sen. John Ruckelshaus of Indianapolis joined them and announced a bill he’s sponsoring to create a state website where the public can draw suggested maps and submit comments before the Legislature votes on new districts in 2021.

Ruckelshaus said he was a “casualty” of a Democratic-led redistricting in 1991 that drew him out of a state House seat after a single term. He has supported creating an independent commission to draw Indiana’s congressional and legislative districts for approval by the General Assembly, but those proposals have failed to advance over the past decade even though powerful GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma has been a previous bill sponsor.

“Both sides are guilty, if you will,” Ruckelshaus said. “But I think the more public pressure we can put the better.”

The big majorities Republicans hold in the Legislature allow them to take action even without any Democrats present, which makes moot any boycotts by Democrats such as they did in 2011 and 2012 in their failed efforts to block passage of a state “right-to-work” law.

Republicans have also locked in a 7-2 majority of Indiana’s congressional seats since the 2012 election with the GOP-drawn maps. Republican candidates received 55% of the statewide congressional vote in the 2018 election, but none of the district races was close.

The state Senate last year endorsed a bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Greg Walker of Columbus that included a prohibition on considering the residency of incumbent office holders when new districts were drawn, but the House never took up the proposal.

Walker, who is chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, said he was leaving it to the House this year to advance any proposed redistricting changes, especially after U.S. Supreme Court declared in June that federal judges have no role in settling disputes over partisan gerrymandering.

“That further emboldens the General Assembly to keep the status quo and let the voters cast their votes as they will,” Walker said. “I understand that can be trick bag if you say you don’t get to vote fairly because I’m not in a fair district. But that’s the lay of the land today, that’s the political environment today.”

Republican House elections committee Chairman Tim Wesco of Osceola defended the current political maps as “cleaner and better” than those drawn by Democrats when they had the upper hand in the 2001 redistricting. He said the state constitution would still require maps drawn by an independent commission to gain the approval of legislators.

“The constitution gives that authority to the legislative body,” he said. “Essentially, the constitution would have to change for that authority to shift from elected officials to appointed or nonelected officials.”

West Lafayette
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 47°
Kokomo
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 38°
Rensselaer
Mostly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 34°
Fowler
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 47°
Williamsport
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 45°
Crawfordsville
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 41°
Frankfort
Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 41°
Delphi
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 38°
Monticello
Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 38°
Logansport
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 36°
River flooding, some showers/t'showers, frost, fog & then heat, humidity & severe weather in one highly-varied forecast!
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 729716

Reported Deaths: 13418
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion998331740
Lake53638968
Allen40585676
St. Joseph35651550
Hamilton35569408
Elkhart28514442
Tippecanoe22386219
Vanderburgh22300397
Porter18725308
Johnson17933379
Hendricks17209315
Clark12951191
Madison12649339
Vigo12440246
LaPorte11890211
Monroe11883170
Delaware10676186
Howard9908216
Kosciusko9401117
Hancock8275141
Bartholomew8061155
Warrick7778155
Floyd7657178
Wayne7042199
Grant7041174
Boone6690101
Morgan6563139
Dubois6153117
Marshall6039111
Dearborn580478
Cass5803105
Henry5713103
Noble560383
Jackson501673
Shelby490796
Lawrence4531120
Harrison435472
Gibson435092
DeKalb427885
Clinton427153
Montgomery423888
Whitley395639
Huntington390680
Steuben387057
Miami381566
Knox371990
Jasper364947
Putnam359960
Wabash353679
Adams341254
Ripley339570
Jefferson330681
White313854
Daviess296799
Wells291481
Decatur284892
Fayette280462
Greene278585
Posey271433
LaGrange266170
Scott265653
Clay259747
Washington240632
Randolph240281
Spencer232131
Jennings229949
Starke216353
Fountain212246
Sullivan211542
Owen199256
Fulton195440
Jay194730
Carroll188520
Orange182954
Perry182837
Rush173125
Vermillion169243
Franklin168035
Tipton162845
Parke146216
Blackford134732
Pike133834
Pulaski116745
Newton107734
Brown102041
Crawford99714
Benton98614
Martin88615
Warren82015
Switzerland7898
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0415

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events