By Haley Pritchett
INDIANAPOLIS—On Tuesday, the Indiana Senate released its new redistricting maps.
To many Democrats, the Senate maps pose problems resembling those of the Indiana and U.S. House maps, released last week. They have accused the Republican supermajority of manipulating district lines to secure seats.
The Indiana Democratic Party issued a statement following the release expressing its disapproval, claiming the maps were drawn unfairly, without transparency, and are gerrymandered with the help of a Washington, D.C., Republican consultant the Indiana GOP hired.
“The Republicans’ new Indiana Senate map keeps in place a broken system where self-serving politicians benefit at the expense of Indiana families,” the statement said.
In a Fort Wayne Journal Gazette opinion piece written by Mike Schmuhl, chair of the Indiana Democratic Party, he argued that at the end of the last decade, elections were more competitive and public offices more balanced. He feels these new maps will kill that.
“With gerrymandered districts that are 95% more biased toward its side compared to the rest of the country, the Indiana Republican Party has been more focused on power, control and extreme partisanship in recent years,” he wrote.
Republicans say the Indiana Senate maps comply with all state and federal requirements, use guiding principles provided in statewide redistricting hearings, and keep communities of interest together.
“I’m very pleased with the work done to produce the new Senate district maps we are proposing,” said President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville.
Bill sponsor Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, said they aspired to keep communities together in redrawing the maps, using new U.S. Census data delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With more than 90% of cities, towns and townships kept whole, I believe we have honored that request while navigating the competing interests that inevitably exist when you undertake a project of this magnitude,” he said.
There will be a public meeting to gather feedback at 9 a.m Monday in the Senate Chamber of the Indiana Statehouse. The Senate Committee on Elections will then meet again Sept. 28 for an amend-and-vote-only meeting.
Haley Pritchett is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.