Hats off to the All IN 4 Democracy Coalition for refusing to surrender in its efforts to give citizens a meaningful voice in Indiana’s once-a-decade redistricting process.
Made up of some two dozen organizations, the coalition hopes to convince lawmakers at least to bring the process out into the open.
As part of its campaign, the coalition plans to form a redistricting commission that will hold public hearings and give average citizens a chance to draw their own maps. The coalition’s goal is to show Indiana lawmakers how this exercise really ought to work.
At the same time, coalition members such as the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and the NAACP will be working hard to shine a light on the actual process, doing all they can to give citizens a true voice in a process that really should be focused on voters.
For far too long, the party in control of the Indiana General Assembly has used its position to draw districts designed to maintain that advantage. Republicans try to elect more Republicans, and Democrats try to elect more Democrats.
Twenty years ago, the Democrats were in charge, and they drew maps that gave them control of the Indiana House of Representatives for much of the decade. The next time around, the Republicans had the majority, and the result has been supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature.
A lot of politicians will tell you this is as it should be. The voters gave one party control, they say, and that party should take full advantage. The other party would do it to us, they say, why shouldn’t we do it to them?
The answer is simple.
Drawing districts aimed at giving one party a leg up in an election is bad for democracy. Too many of the resulting districts wind up with a partisan balance so lopsided that the election is effectively over in the primary.
Incumbents worried more about the base than the average voter find themselves with no reason to compromise, leaving even moderate voters with no real voice. The one-sided nature of the elections in these districts leads to apathy and low voter turnout.
Reform advocates for years have been trying to convince Indiana politicians to let go of the reins and put the power into the hands of voters where it belongs.
They’ve failed in that, but they have not given up. We should all join in applauding their persistence and wish them success. After all, they’re fighting for us.