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Montgomery County residents were among the hundreds gathered for a noon redistricting rally held Nov. 19 on the east entrance steps of the Indiana State Capital in Indianapolis on Legislative Organization Day. This was the same day as the Red for Ed rally, and many people participated in both. Julia Vaughn, Common Cause, welcomed the men, women and children assembled and called for the Indiana House and Senate to pass reformed redistricting laws for the state of Indiana.
The bipartisan Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting with 25 organizations including educational organizations, environmental organizations, consumer groups and many others has been work for fair and bipartisan redistricting urging a process that ends the conflict of interest that exist when legislators draw the maps. Thousands of teachers support the need for redistricting.
The 2020 legislative session will be the last opportunity to reform redistricting process before this occurs in 2021. Republican State Sen. Greg Walker of Columbus created a reform bill which passed the Senate in both 2018 and 2019, but it died when the chairman of the House Elections committee refused to give it a hearing.
Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction, spoke to the redistricting rally gathering. Both McCormick and Vaughn spoke about how legislators from gerrymandered districts do not have to listen to voters as they are ensured reelection because of party affiliation. Many issues, like education, will not be addressed to truly meet the needs of citizens without redistricting reform. The only way elected officials can be held responsible is through voting, and in too many districts voters do not determine the fate of candidates — a mapmaker does.
Vaughn led several chants including: “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Gerrymandering has to Go” and “Support Strong Schools, Support Fair Maps!”
Another speaker dressed as Abraham Lincoln, addressed the group and reminded all of the connection with redistricting reform in Lincoln’s Day as well as the present.
“Gerrymandering gives some voters more power than others, which obviously clashes with a guiding principle in the United States Constitution — the concept of one man, one vote. We cannot allow this gerrymandering practice to continue because its impact is pernicious and undermines the fabric of our democratic form of government. I said many years ago that America will never be destroyed from the outside; if we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. Gerrymandering is a perfect example of an internal destructive force undermining the will of the American people. We need districts that are drawn by the people and for the people!”
The bi-partisan Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting urges each of us to encourage State Sen. Phil Boots and State Rep. Timothy Brown and State Rep. Sharon Negele to support creation of an independent Indiana Redistricting Commission in 2020.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, multi-issue organization open to men and women, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Visit online at www.lwvmontcoin.org.