LWV to sponsor Dec. 7 gerrymandering forum

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The League of Women Voters of Greencastle is sponsoring a Public Forum on Redistricting Reform on Monday, Dec. 7, from 6:30-8:45 p.m. at Watson Forum in the Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media at DePauw University.

The documentary film "Gerrymandering" will be shown, followed by a question-and-answer time with Julia Vaughn of Common Cause Indiana and Debbie Asberry of the Indiana State League of Women Voters.

The public is invited to join the League for a discussion on the subject.

Why should you care about redistricting?

Our political process is broken and not engaging. Only one out of 10 people decided our last city election for mayor of Greencastle. Fewer and fewer people turn out to vote because there is gerrymandering, low level of civic literacy and low trust of government.

Gerrymandering assures the majority party wins an election and 40 percent of the last Indiana Legislature was already elected because the election was assured for the incumbent by gerrymandering. In many contests throughout the country there is no competition in the general election. In 2014, in Indiana half of the House and half of the Senate were unopposed. Voter suppression also may be playing more of a role.

Sheila Suess Kennedy of the Center for Civic Literacy at IUPUI quotes the 7th Circuit Court saying that Voter ID is a tactic to "discourage poor and minority voters" and it is a remedy for a "non-existent problem." "Person fraud" almost never happens, Kennedy declares. Healthy voting districts enable a variety of voices to be heard.

What's being done?

House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1003 is a first step toward redistricting reform in Indiana as the committee will evaluate challenges, benefits and other issues associated with drawing electoral district boundaries. Currently, the state constitution mandates that legislative and congressional districts shall be drawn by the legislature every 10 years following the U.S. Census collection of new population data.

To reduce political influence in the redistricting process, 12 states now authorize a body or commission other than the state legislature to redraw district boundaries. The Interim Study Committee on Redistricting will evaluate the structure and methods that other states utilize to establish new procedures for Indiana when districts are next redrawn in 2021, according ot Indiana State Sen. Tim Lanane, District 25

The LWV is a non-partisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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