The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update


January 29, 2011

Guest column: District lines signal legislative corruption

ANDERSON, Ind. — Redistricting is the No. 1 form of corruption in Indiana’s legislature. Our senators and representatives soon will hack out a new map of election districts. They do this every 10 years following the U.S. Census. Once more, the interests of incumbents and the parties will outweigh the interests of Hoosiers.

The Constitution demands that districts contain reasonably equal numbers of people. Over time, some areas grow faster than others so the lines must be redrawn. In this redistricting process, minorities must not be denied representation by spreading them over several districts. Finally, a proper district represents identifiable geographic areas with a community of interest.

This last condition is hard to satisfy. The existing maps of the congressional, state Senate or House districts horribly ignore this mandate. Worse still, the results of recent elections vividly show how the Indiana General Assembly undermines democracy.

In 2008, one or the other of our two major parties refused to nominate a candidate for 32 of the 100 seats in the Statehouse. Yes, 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans triumphed because they had no significant opposition. (Minority or third parties accounted for only 4.3 percent of the total vote in these 32 districts.)

Only 11 of the remaining 68 seats were won in what politicians consider a competitive election (the winner gets less than 55 percent of the vote). Partisan redistricting suppresses competition and denies voters alternatives. There is no debate of state issues, no contrasting of party positions, and no development of a hometown point of view.

Voters turn their backs on participation when the major parties declare “no contest.” In the 16 races where the Democrats failed their responsibility to enter a candidate, the average total vote was 21,300; where the GOP surrendered without a challenger, the average total vote was 18,700. But where the two major parties did compete, the average total vote was 28,800.

That was 2008. In 2010, House Republicans anticipated winning yet failed to enter candidates in five elections. The Democrats, expecting losses, avoided races in 21 districts. These acts of “smart politics,” saving money for tight battles, have adverse consequences.

Abandoning the voters by not entering a candidate is political delinquency. The Indiana Democratic Party declared defeat without putting up a fight. Republicans would have done the same if circumstances were reversed.

Both parties want easy elections. They abuse redistricting to gain partisan objectives and protect incumbents, particularly the old horses who pulled the wagon for many years. Both parties want to slice the electorate into convenient chunks that guarantee as many partisan victories as possible.

Voters expect fair elections. Unbalanced districts, carefully drafted to ensure victory for one party or the other, deny Hoosiers valid choices. This year the electorate demands its rights be placed above the partisan welfare of legislators.

Our state senators and representatives deal the cards with which we all must play. Too often, however, they deal from the bottom of the deck.

Morton Marcus, former director of the Indiana Business Research Center, is an economist, speaker and writer in Indianapolis.

Text Only
  • OPN - HB0802 - hp photo with editorial - SU Editorial: Dan Patch Invitational brings national focus The Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park on Aug. 8 brings some of the best standardbreds into the state and brings the local track into a national spotlight. This is a great chance to support the effort to keep the city on the map and a big crowd helps add to the atmosphere.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Letter: President's trade being swept under rug My question to all, why do we keep hearing after a number of months about the shootings in Colorado, Sandy Hook, etc., but yet the president illegally deals with terrorists, trades five for a believed deserter and now it is being swept under the rug?

    August 1, 2014

  • Letter: New glass ceiling is $12 an hour All those libertarians, tea party, conservatives (dupes of the rich) are leading America's middle class and poor into poverty and depression.

    August 1, 2014

  • Letter: Constitution, laws being trampled Nancy Pelosi said, "When it comes to protecting the children I'm a lioness!" Too bad that doesn't include the babies who are ripped from the womb. How ironic to hear the progressive liberals talk of compassion for illegals while killing our own.

    August 1, 2014

  • Letter: Liberal says 'illegal' should be taboo Did you see where a well-known liberal wants to do away with the "I" word? 'I' as in "illegal."

    August 1, 2014

  • NWS - HB0728 - World War 1 Local Bob Quinn 2 Editorial: WWI commemorated at 100th anniversary On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. There was overwhelming support. Neutrality was no longer an option. The sinking by Germany of the British ocean liner, the Lusitania, further committed Americans to the cause. Madison County answered the call, too.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Viewpoint: Panhandlers give wrong impression of our city First of all, let me start off by saying that I have as much empathy and compassion for those less fortunate as the next person.

    July 31, 2014

  • Editorial: Ring the bell! School is back in session Whether it’s the first first day of school or the last first day of high school, a multitude of unknown obstacles, achievements and milestones await. Enjoy every single one.

    July 30, 2014

  • Editorial: City overzealous in calling for Chamberlain probe In the aftermath of The Herald Bulletin's recent news report that City Councilman Rodney Chamberlain had been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in relation to basketball league funds, one question stands out.

    July 30, 2014

  • OPN - Mootry column mug [Duplicate] [Duplicate] Primus Mootry: The African-American community toward a new narrative African Americans are entirely unique in the annals of American history and, perhaps, the whole history of mankind. This uniqueness demands an African American agenda and, with it, a new narrative, or way of articulating that agenda.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

How many Dan Patch races have you attended?

3 or more
All 20
     View Results