NewsPublic Affairs / October 3, 2017

Redistricting Reform Advocates Hope Court Decision Spurs Change

Redistricting Reform Advocates Hope Court Decision Spurs ChangeAs the Supreme Court hears the lawsuit out of Wisconsin, Hoosier advocates hope it spurs change in Indiana.United States Supreme Court, redistricting reform, gerrymandering2017-10-03T00:00:00-04:00
Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Redistricting Reform Advocates Hope Court Decision Spurs Change

Two advocates hold up their signs in front of the federal courthouse in Indianapolis.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Hoosier advocates for legislative redistricting reform hope a U.S. Supreme Court case on the issue will spur action in the Indiana General Assembly.

The case at the U.S. Supreme Court centers on what’s called partisan gerrymandering, or the manipulation of legislative districts to benefit a political party.

Common Cause Indiana policy director Julia Vaughn says, if the Supreme Court decides Wisconsin’s maps are invalid, it would be a significant step toward reform at the Indiana Statehouse.

“It will serve as some great motivation. They will understand the significance of the decision,” Vaughn says.

Sheila Kennedy was a member of the special legislative study committee on redistricting reform. It met for two years and recommended changes to Indiana’s system, but subsequent legislation never even got a vote in the General Assembly.

Still, Kennedy says a favorable ruling could spur action, because, in Indiana, redistricting reform is a bipartisan cause.

“We have a number of legislators, in the Indiana General Assembly, who really do see this problem and they’re on both sides of the aisle,” Kennedy says.

Many advocates say partisan gerrymandering is correlated to low voter turnout. Kennedy, who is a law professor at IUPUI, says one of her students, living in Noblesville, questioned why they should spend the time to go vote, when all of the races at that time were uncontested.

“I have no answer to that,” Kennedy says. “If you are voting in a safe district, why bother?”

Vaughn says redistricting reform could increase voter turnout.

“Redistricting reform is a really good way to inject some life into Indiana elections because people will actually have a reason to go vote,” Vaughn says.

The Supreme Court’s decision would likely come next year.



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