By Maureen Bauer
Special to TheStatehouseFile.com
Every 10 years, following the federal census, states are required to redraw congressional and legislative district boundaries. In the coming weeks, members of the Indiana General Assembly will meet to decide new maps setting the precedent for the next decade of elections. What follows is an op-ed written by Bauer, discussing her thoughts:
We are facing turbulent social, economic and political times. We continue to adjust our day-to-day routines as we still endure the impacts of a year-and-a-half-long global pandemic and surging Delta variant.
During times like these, it couldn’t be more clear the importance of responsible leadership, and representative government, that will serve you in decision making.
This year’s redistricting process is the opportunity to demand fair representation in government. The new maps will influence how your future state and federal elected leaders will address the hardships we face as a community, the opportunities provided to you and your family and will shape Indiana’s political climate for the next decade.
It is well known that Indiana has more gerrymandered state legislative maps than 95% of the country. The result of one-party-rule has led to non-responsive government, a lack of representation in your elected officials and extreme policy agendas.
The practice, known as gerrymandering, is a way of manipulating political boundaries to allow legislators to pick their voters when it should be the other way around.
While attending the one and only public hearing in our region on redistricting, I heard the overwhelming demand from residents for inclusion in the map-drawing process. Despite these efforts, decisions are being made right now behind closed doors by the supermajority on who will represent you.
While 2020 election results for statewide candidates totaled an average of 57% of the vote, it is not reflective of the current imbalance of power of a 71% and 78% supermajority in the House and Senate.
While Indiana’s population is 51% female, our Indiana General Assembly is represented by a governing body of decision makers that is only 26% women.
By continuing to allow politicians the power to draw their own districts that lean toward their own political party, we will continue to settle for non-responsive government, a lack of representation in decision makers that is not reflective of our state’s population, and extreme, partisan policy which often get overturned in a long and expensive court process at the taxpayer’s expense. If we want to restore faith in our democratic system, and truly make this a state that works, it is time to end partisan gerrymandering.
Representative government requires inclusion, transparency and public involvement. The nine public hearings that occurred this summer did not provide any proposed maps for public comment, and avoided urban communities like South Bend, thereby neglecting the voice of minority populations, people without reliable transportation and working families. It is time to reform Indiana's legislative redistricting process to allow for an independent, transparent and equitable state. I am encouraging all Hoosiers to remain vigilant as the next ten years of our state is shaped this month.
Maureen Bauer, D-South Bend, is a member of the Indiana House of Representatives.