I am pleased to announce that I am participating as a member of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. The gerrymandering of electoral districts and the need to redraw maps with districts without political considerations is an issue I have been pressing for several years, including with my 2006 run for Indiana Secretary of State, and through the present with the lawsuit against the town of Fishers.
The Commission was assembled by Common Cause Indiana, and true to the organization’s name, Commission members represent a range of political perspectives. There are Democrats, Republicans, and yes Libertarians represented here. From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel:
A citizen panel backed by the League of Women Voters and AARP will hold public hearings on the redistricting process and will monitor the drawing of new maps by the Indiana General Assembly.
The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, co-chaired by former lawmakers Dave Crooks of Washington, a Democrat, and Republican Bill Ruppel of North Manchester, says it wants to ensure the redistricting process emphasizes competition and fairness, not incumbent protection and partisan advantage.
Points I made with regard to the numbers of unchallenged races were carried by the Muncie Star Press report:
The citizens commission said a politicized redistricting 10 years ago, when Democrats controlled the House, resulted in the northwest Indiana city of Chesterton, with a population of about 8,000, being divided among three Indiana House districts and the towns of Frankton and Rockport, each with populations of about 2,000, both being divided between two House districts.
It said 17 of 100 Indiana House candidates and five of 25 Indiana Senate candidates faced no opponents in the general election.
Libertarians represented the only challenge to 11 more Indiana House races, and 1 of the Senate campaigns. The Libertarian Party of Indiana has for years recruited candidates specifically in the unopposed races so as to keep issues alive through November in these districts. Without a challenger, the incumbent is done with the May primary, and doesn’t have to talk issues at all. The accountability of unopposed candidates is nil.
We have seen that redistricting can happen without politics, with Marion County being the best example. The county shows a narrow Democratic majority of voters, and since redistricting, the county went from Republican domination on the City-County Council to slim majorities that tip back and forth, which is vastly more representative of the people in the county.
And that’s how elections should be. Government should be representative of the people. Sure, politically I might wish it to be a Libertarian government, just as Republicans and Democrats would prefer their party to rule the day. But elections shouldn’t be foregone conclusions, thanks to deals between political bosses that protect certain incumbents and certain seats. It’s time to draw the map in compact geographical districts and let the chips fall where they may.
Members of the citizen panel agreed to serve at the request of the Indiana chapters of the League of Women Voters, AARP, the political watchdog group Common Cause/Indiana and the Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
Other members of the commission include Barbara Bolling, president of the Indiana conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; AARP Indiana President Clyde Hall; Executive Director Gil Holmes of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana; Mike Kole, chairman of the Hamilton County Libertarian Party; and Briana Dines of the Indiana University student group Democracy Matters.
I am honored to have been invited to participate in this Commission, and look forward to gathering input from voters from around the state.