Indiana lawmakers will soon begin redrawing the state’s political boundaries. But they’ve already made the software they’ll use available to the public at three locations across the state.
The software is available at libraries on Indiana University’s campuses in South Bend, Indianapolis and Bloomington. The task seems simple enough: subdivide the state’s voters equally into either nine U.S. House, 50 State Senate or 100 State House districts.
Each of the state’s 9 U.S. House districts should have approximately 720,000 people in order to be equal, but federal law allows for a small tolerance.
A number of counties on the current map are split between multiple districts, but there’s only one county – Marion – which has so many people that it MUST be subdivided. So in our map, approximately the northern three-fourths of the county becomes the 7th district and the lower quarter falls into the 5th.
Districts must be contiguous, but there’s no rule about their shape. So WFIU’s map – which considers only population and not politics — stretches the 8th District along the Wabash and Ohio rivers, with Vigo County on one end and Clark County on the other – including the Terre Haute, Evansville and Louisville media markets.
The 9th District adds a 21st county to remain the biggest in area, but would be the smallest in terms of population.
Bedford Representative Eric Koch, who hosted a series of weekend meetings about redrawing political boundaries, said completed maps may be sent to lawmakers, who could consider them during the redistricting process.
“The legislation itself moves through the process just like any other bill,” Koch said. “And the maps – any submissions – will be considered just like any other form of public comment.”
The software comes with a tutorial program and takes 30-60 minutes to learn. Wells Library Government Information Department Head Lou Malcomb said the software has been operational on the Bloomington campus for less than a week, adding the next step will be posting directions at the terminal to make the mapping process smoother.