State legislative redistricting in Indiana took an important step forward Tuesday morning when the Senate Elections Committee, chaired by Republican Sen. Greg Walker, voted unanimously in support of SB326 to create a set of redistricting standards. The bill will now move to the full Senate. The committee met in the Senate chambers with a crowd of more than 200 from all parts of Indiana in the balcony. Redistricting has been a top priority of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting democracy, voter rights and voter projection. The LWV has co-sponsored with Common Cause Indiana a coalition for independent redistricting which has been educating and advocating for redistricting reform.
The current redistricting process leads to uncompetitive districts, and no competition leads to low voter turnout. In 2014, 54 of the Indiana General races were unopposed in the general election. Indiana had the lowest voter turnout (28 percent) in America and the worst turnout in 72 years.
When legislative districts are drawn from a partisan perspective rather than based on communities of interest, like cities and counties, school districts, neighborhoods and minority groups, communities are often divided. Guidelines for the redistricting process lay the groundwork necessary to inform how maps should be drawn.