The Herald Bulletin

February 28, 2014

Editorial: For 2020, Indiana needs clear redistricting vision

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Before you know it, 2020 will be here.

It would be great, in keeping with the symbolism of 2020 (good eyesight), if the state of Indiana developed a vision of better public policy by creating a fair and reasonable way of drawing the 100 Indiana House, 50 State Senate and nine congressional districts.

The next decennial U.S. census will be released in 2020, and redistricting will ensue. It will be an opportunity for the state to break free from its gerrymandered past.

As you'll recall, in 2011, as in preceding decades, the majority party in the General Assembly drew up new districts in Indiana. Those are still in force today and will be through 2020.

You can find the districts in maps online. They look like somebody, basically, vomited on Indiana. That's how haphazard the districts appear.

Truly, the districts are anything but haphazard. The party in power contorts districts, grouping together pockets of loyal partisan voters to assure that the party's incumbents are re-elected, and to facilitate grabbing new seats in the Indiana House and Senate and in Congress.

This is madness and totally contrary to the spirit of a democratic republic. (Funny to pair those words together, isn't it?)

Legislative and congressional districts should have regular borders that make geographic and geometric sense.

People who live near one another have common interests. Indiana's current districts confuse Hoosiers, discourage potential candidates from running and ignore many community connections.

Despite evidence to the contrary, some members of the General Assembly do have common sense, as well as a sense of responsibility to the people of Indiana.

These state representatives and senators, including Anderson's Tim Lanane, were behind a bill, HB 1032, that would have created a commission to draw up the new districts for 2020.

The bill recently drowned in a sea of more urgent legislation. A heavy weight of apathy and selfishness dragged it into the depths.

A similar bill, no doubt, will surface again and again in the coming years in the legislature, a testament to legislators who believe in democracy unfettered by self-interest.

How many more deaths will the concept of fair districting endure?

The year 2020 will be upon us before you know it. Here's hoping it will be preceded by the creation of a nonpartisan commission to draw up sensible districts. Otherwise, Indiana is destined for another myopic, partisan brand of redistricting that puts political parties ahead of Hoosier citizens.

In summary Indiana desperately needs a non-partisan commission to draw legislative and congressional districts.