This is a Republican state. Obviously, the majority of Indiana's congressional and legislative seats will be held by the GOP, so the argument goes. Dig deeper into election results, however, and it's clear the state isn't as Republican as it might appear. Gerrymandered districts give the party in power unfair advantage.
When the Indiana House's Committee on Elections and Apportionment meets Saturday at Ivy Tech Community College's Coliseum campus, lawmakers should hear from voters demanding change. They need to hear calls for a fair and transparent redistricting process. They need to know Hoosiers won't stand for the kinds of maps drawn after the 2010 census, creating congressional districts resistant to any partisan turnover. They need to know voters don't want legislative districts drawn to protect incumbents and discourage competition. More than a third of legislative candidates in 2016's November election were uncontested.
Republicans hold 71% of Indiana House seats; 78% of Senate seats. The party holds seven of nine seats in Congress. In statewide contests last year, no Republican won with more than 58% of the vote. The imbalance comes from districts drawn to benefit one party's members. While the result was less glaring, Democrats did the same when they controlled redistricting.
State Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, will preside at Saturday's redistricting meeting as chair of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment.
“We look forward to hosting these important meetings across the state to hear directly from the public on Indiana's redistricting process,” Wesco said in a news release. “Hoosiers can be confident that we'll continue to meet all of our statutory and constitutional requirements.”
But those requirements set a low bar. The redistricting road show that gets underway Friday gives lip service to public participation.
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said he will be in the audience Saturday, but he wants to see more meetings scheduled.
“I fear that holding public meetings prior to the proposed new district maps being available to the public will be of little value,” he wrote in a letter to House and Senate Republican leaders. “With census data not yet available to the public and no redistricting bills with concrete proposals pending in either the House or Senate committees, the public will be commenting on abstract concepts rather than detailed proposals.”
He called on his colleagues to hold a second round of hearings after maps are drawn. Republican leaders won't produce the only electoral maps this year because an independent redistricting commission has made reapportionment software available for a map-drawing contest. The legislature is under no obligation to consider the independent commission's maps, however.
Claim your voice Saturday to ensure your vote is protected for the next decade.
The Indiana House Elections and Apportionment Committee will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday on Ivy Tech's Coliseum campus, 3600 N. Anthony Blvd.