A series of statewide public hearings on redistricting in Indiana kicked off Friday in Lafayette. Feedback focused on concerns ranging from a lack of competitive districts to voter apathy, but it’s unclear how much direct impact Hoosiers will have as the maps are redrawn.
Indiana’s congressional and legislative districts are revisited every 10 years. Attendees of Lafayette’s meeting made the case to lawmakers that more transparency is required around that process. They also questioned whether the political make-up of the state legislature accurately reflects the political leanings of the population.
Many of the speakers were long-time local residents, but it was West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School sophomore Rahul Durai who drew the most attention from attendees and legislators. He warned that his generation’s turn to vote will come in the next decade -- and that a fair redistricting process could be key for their support.
“This is because the next generation of Hoosiers will not participate in the political process if they feel that their votes do not matter and their voices are not being heard,” Durai said.
Jack Tharp, speaking on behalf of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, shared the takeaways from virtual meetings the group held this spring to hear voters’ concerns about the redistricting process.
“The number one complaint that was heard was lack of competitiveness," Tharp said. "The general electorate does not benefit from an incumbent without a challenger. Good policy is derived from competing interests debating in public.”
Updated census data, which will be used in the redistricting process, won’t arrive until next week. State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) said she was concerned about the contrast between the public meetings and the “behind the closed door” nature of creating the final product.
“How much is going to be taken from these hearings and implemented into what we get?" Pryor said. "I don’t know that it’s really going to be all that much.”
The last public hearing is Aug. 11 in Indianapolis.