WESTVILLE — An activist group is seeking to have legislation passed that would reform redistricting and put an end to gerrymandering in Indiana.
The League of Women Voters of La Porte County and Calumet Area held a gerrymandering workshop on Saturday at Purdue Northwest’s Westville campus. The workshop was intended to inform citizens of the major partisan inconsistency in representation for Hoosiers.
Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause, a nonpartisan grassroots lobbying company, explained her beliefs on the matter.
“I believe that Indiana is a red state, and I don’t think that will change with redistricting reform, and that is not our intent with this," Vaughn said.
Indiana, according to Common Cause, is one of the most gerrymandered states. The Republican party controls five Indiana House seats and one United States House seat more than what would be if votes were distributed evenly throughout the state.
These extra seats in the House of Representatives can perhaps be attributed to strategic redistricting of Democrats. The state legislature is accountable for drawing district lines.
This process, known as gerrymandering, has spread throughout Indiana. It has made the Democratic representation in Indiana disproportionately small and Republican representation much bigger than is called for, cumulatively.
"We are concerned that Republicans are winning more seats because of their ability to manipulate the maps, more than they would otherwise," said Vaughn. "That’s what the numbers show us.”
Vaughn was referring to the 2014 election where for all votes cast in the Indiana House of Representatives, Republicans won 57 percent of all votes. The Republican party ended up with 70 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives, a discrepancy in representation.
The directors at Common Cause believe they may have found a method that would redistrict people fairly and lead to a more representative government for the people.
Their intent is to get a bill passed that gives redistricting power to a committee of knowledgable citizens in hopes that district lines will be drawn to reflect the people in proportion, while also being able to take into account communities of interest.
Redistricting of Indiana is scheduled to happen in 2021. The interim committee has dealt with much resistance from the House Elections Committee. However, Common Cause is still hopeful to be able to garner enough support that the bill passed and committee assembled sometime in 2019.
"Without pressure from the grassroots, this won’t be possible,” Vaughn said.
Those interested can find Common Cause’s petition at www.allinfordemocracy.org.