By LaMonte Richardson Jr.
INDIANAPOLIS—Democrats in the Indiana Senate are proposing reform to the process lawmakers follow when they redraw legislative district boundary lines to eliminate partisan gerrymandering.
Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor , D-Indianapolis, was joined by Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, and newly-elected Sen. Shelli Yoder, D-Bloomington, at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday to announce plans to file legislation in the new session.
Taylor said Senate Democrats have been fighting for more than a decade to reform the redistricting process, but face an uphill battle because Republicans control a supermajority in both chambers.
Fortunately, there are still things we can do to make sure our redistricting process is fair and unbiased,” Taylor said. “Last year, I introduced a proposal to put guidelines in place on how districts can be drawn. My bill would ensure that partisan influence is cut out of the redistricting process, and I plan to reintroduce that bill again in 2021.”
Taylor’s legislation would do the following:
- Require districts to be as compact as possible;
- Discourage the division of cities and counties between districts;
- Discourage the separation of school corporation boundaries and communities into separate districts;
- Prohibit the drawing of district lines to favor a particular party or person;
- Require that new voting maps do not violate the Voting Rights Act; and
- Put procedures in place to provide public with redistricting data and computer software to draw maps, and creates a process for the public to submit their maps.
Ford said redistricting is a lopsided process as a result of past gerrymandering. He noted that with the current maps Republicans can win just about 51% of the votes statewide and end up with 81% of the Senate seats.
Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray said the public will have input into the redistricting process with meetings across the state and the opportunity to draw their own maps on computer terminals set up around the state. He added that the state constitution calls for lawmakers to draw district maps.
Legislators will get the final population tally from the U.S. Census early next year.
LaMonte Richardson Jr. is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.