Redistricting

Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that an independent redistricting commission in Arizona is, in fact, legal.

The decision opens the door for other states to explore such commissions in an effort to fight gerrymandering. (For a great explanation of gerrymandering, check out this Washington Post article from March.)

Earlier this year, the Indiana General Assembly decided to create a study committee on the issue of redistricting reform.

Courtesy / Indiana Election Division

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday upheld the constitutionality of an independent redistricting commission in Arizona, a system that keeps the redrawing of legislative maps out of the legislature’s hands.  That decision could have a major impact on Indiana as lawmakers prepare to examine ways to take some of the politics out of electoral redistricting.

Indiana legislative leaders – both Republican and Democrat – who’ve long supported redistricting reform overcame a major hurdle this year by gaining support for a redistricting study committee. 

Courtesy / Indiana Secretary of State

Citizen advocacy organizations are gearing up for redistricting reform as lawmakers prepare to study changes to the way Indiana draws its legislative districts.

Lawmakers this summer will begin a two-year study committee to examine the possibility of redistricting reform.  The committee will include non-legislators, but the statute creating the study mandates that those so-called “lay” members must have experience, training, or education in redistricting. 

Courtesy / Indiana Business Research Services

Changes to Indiana’s redistricting system likely won’t take place until at least 2017 under a new proposal from House legislative leaders that would create a redistricting study committee.

The committee would be charged with studying redistricting for the next two years, with a report due in December 2016.  Under the bill, the committee would consider several issues, including state and federal redistricting laws, the cost of a reform effort, and redistricting systems in other states. 

Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Voices calling for Indiana to create an independent redistricting commission are getting louder this session.

Last session, Speaker Brian Bosma coauthored legislation creating a redistricting commission, with members appointed by legislative leaders of both parties.  While that bill passed the House, it never received a hearing in the Senate. 

Bosma says he will offer the bill again, but notes both chambers need to buy-in this time.

State of Indiana

Leaders of “good government” groups say Indiana can’t wait any longer to explore changing the way it redraws its legislative maps every ten years. 

Indiana’s voter turnout in the last election was the lowest in its history and the worst in the country.  Common Cause Indiana’s Julia Vaughn says that’s in part because voters don’t have enough choices,  noting that 44 out of the 100 state Representatives ran unopposed.