An Indiana Senate panel advanced a bill Monday that would set criteria for redrawing electoral districts. But the measure approved on an 8-0 vote falls far short of a comprehensive redistricting overhaul that good government groups have sought for years. Senate Elections Committee Chairman Greg Walker acknowledged his bill was a “baby step,” though the Columbus Republican said it still moves the conversation forward. Indiana’s legislative and congressional districts are currently drawn to favor Republicans. That’s because the Legislature, which oversees the once-in-a-decade effort that comes after the census, is in GOP control. In the past, when Democrats had more power, the maps tilted in their favor.
That’s problematic, according to advocates, who argue that such a process allows lawmakers to pick and choose their voters, rather than voters picking and choosing their elected officials. That can lead to voter apathy and a limited turnout on election day, according to advocates.
Walker’s bill outlines a series of guidelines. Under the measure, districts should be drawn “to the extent possible” in ways that avoid splitting pockets of voters with common cultural, ethnic, political, or socio economic interests. They should also be drawn compactly and in ways that avoid splitting existing boundaries set by local governments.