From: Tracy Heaton de Martinez
The time is now for our Indiana Legislature to put aside political considerations and begin to listen to and act upon community interests.
After listening to more than 90 minutes of testimony from Hoosiers across the state, our state Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, chairman of the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, did not take a committee vote on House Bill 1014, which would create a redistricting commission.
The room was so full of concerned residents that the room had to be changed. And our concerns are not being heard.
Currently, when the Indiana General Assembly conducts redistricting, it allows politicians to choose their constituents rather than we the voters electing our representation. Our current system encourages division, dividing communities of interest.
Independent redistricting, as proposed in HB 1014, can increase government legitimacy and public trust by eliminating the conflict of interest that is inherent when the players are also the umpires.
The Indiana Bicentennial Visioning Project, led by the respected bipartisan team of former Congressman Lee Hamilton and former Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, listed redistricting reform as one of our state’s top policy priorities because of the negative impact of redistricting on competitive elections in the state.
And I do not accept any citation of a “study” by the Washington Post because there was no such study conducted by the Washington Post. An article about the compactness of our districts speaks to only one criteria. A University of Chicago Law Review article noted our districts are not very competitive, rather they are designed to be “safe” and keep politicians in office.
While the Indiana Constitution gives responsibility for redistricting to the General Assembly, our General Assembly does have the authority to create a redistricting commission through legislation to take charge of this process.
Legislators who work hard for their constituents, and not the out-of-state lobbyists, should have nothing to fear from a more independent process.