JUNE 2018SCOTUS DELAYS DECISION ON PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING Although it wasn't the decision we've been waiting on - a clear opinion from the highest court in the country that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional - yesterday's decision by the Supreme Court in the cases from Wisconsin and Maryland actually bring us a small step forward. It's clear that the court is still actively looking for the right case to establish a standard for what constitutes an unconstitutional gerrymander. It may yet be the case from Wisconsin and/or Maryland, or it could come from the legal challenges by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters in North Carolina, which the SCOTUS will take up next term. Here's a link to a brief video from Common Cause redistricting experts explaining what the SCOTUS "non-decision" means for our work. One thing is clear - it's more important than ever to educate Hoosiers about this issue and build grassroots support. And the good news is that support continues to grow. Just last week, the town of Highland became the 25th local government to pass the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting resolution. Thanks to activists from the League of Women Voters of the Calumet Area who have been on quite a resolution roll of late, with three local governments in Lake County taking action because of their efforts. Former LaPorte Mayor Leigh Morris has also been a huge help up in the NW corner of the state - keep up the great work Regionites!
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD Because of the SCOTUS announcement yesterday redistricting will be in the news for the next few news cycles. Let's take advantage of that buzz by creating some of our own - here's how you can help. Write a letter to the editor. We've got to push back on the message from the state legislative leadership on redistricting reform - remember that they killed our modest reform bill this session by saying they had to wait on the Supreme Court to decide the Wisconsin case before they can enact redistricting reform here. Some legislators may think that the Supreme Court has just given them reason to keep dragging their feet, and that's not the case at all.
What we are working for is the creation of a citizens redistricting commission and that is clearly constitutional. A couple of years ago the SCOTUS handed down a very strong decision in a challenge to the Arizona Citizens Redistricting Commission and they said that it's absolutely constitutional for a legislature to turn this job over to another entity. Here's a link to the press release ICIR issued this morning - please feel free to use it to draft your letter to the editor.
You can also help by contacting your legislators via social media (if they are on it) or by calling their State House office. Tell them there is no need to wait on the Supreme Court and that you want them to support redistricting reform in 2019.
COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU? It's going to be a busy summer. We're planning a big State House seminar for the last week in August with some of the top redistricting experts from across the country, plans are underway for activist trainings in at least four cities and we'll be surveying legislative candidates once the filing deadline is passed. Please mark July 17th on your calendar - it's Eldridge Gerry's birthday - and start thinking about what you can do locally to support redistricting reform. We won't be doing a State House rally this year but want to encourage activists to organize dozens of events across the state. We'll help you organize and publicize your events so let's get creative out there and make July 17th Indiana's Day of Action for Redistricting Reform.! Whether it's holding a Gerrymander Meander, a rally on the town square, hosting a house party or meeting in a group with your legislator, make sure you participate.
MAY 2018No Legislative Summer Study, So We'll Have Our Own Despite the passage of Senate Concurrent Resolution 30 (sponsored by Senator Greg Walker) which called for a summer study committee on redistricting issues, the Legislative Council failed to assign the issue to a committee. So, there will be no official legislative study committee this summer. But, that's not all bad. Study committee chairs alternate between the House and Senate each year, so it was the House's turn to chair this year. Without Senator Walker leading the effort we could have ended up with a bad recommendation, so it's probably just as well the Legislative Council didn't follow through. And, their failure will give our coalition the opportunity to sponsor a conference this summer to bring in several national experts on key redistricting issues to educate both lawmakers and activists. We'll need your help spreading the word about the conference and getting legislators to attend. No date set yet - we're looking at mid to late summer - more news to come.
Big Reform Win in Ohio Redistricting reform advocates in Ohio scored an impressive ballot initiative win to amend their Constitution and change the way that Congressional districts are drawn. While legislators will still be in charge of the map drawing, a new procedure will be put in place that requires the majority party to gain a certain amount of minority party support before new districts can be adopted. Here's a good article from the Washington Post that describes the Ohio reform effort.
Lake County Cities Adopt Resolution We're up to 25 local governments that have passed our resolution calling on the Indiana General Assembly to pass redistricting reform. The Lake County cities of Whiting and Hobart are the latest to take action in support of an end to gerrymandering. We'd like to get at least 30 resolutions adopted before next year - is your city on the list?
Coming Soon: Redistricting Reform Activist Trainings It's time to get back out on the road and hold trainings for redistricting reform activists. We'd like to hold at least 4 over the summer in locations around the state - we are coordinating will coalition partners and will be choosing dates and locations soon - please let us know if you want to host a training in your community.
Here are two definitions of importance and links to learn more about the process.
"Apportionment: The process for allocating representative seats within a geographic area or political jurisdiction according to changes in population. For example: Seats in the United States House of Representatives are distributed among the 50 states according to each new Census, with states that gain population receiving more seats and those that lose population getting fewer."
This applies not just to Congress but also to all state voting districts. Links to all current districts can be found at the Tippecanoe County Board of Elections and Registration.
"Gerrymandering: Redrawing district lines in such a way as to create a particular result."
LWVIN, LWVGL and other Indiana Local Leagues are targeting the redistricting process for action. Go to the LWVIN website for details and resources to learn more about the process and read the 2013 revised LWVIN Redistricting Position. The Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting established by the Indiana State Legislature during the 2015 General Assembly is reviewing contact the League at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about why removing legislators from the redistricting process is critical for protecting Democracy. Watch this short movie Gerrymandering 101.
Check out the November 15, 2015 broadcast of Politically Speaking. The topic for discussion - 'The Election Process and Local Policy Impact'.