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Bloomington City Council Considers Independent Redistricting Commission

A middle range shot of Bloomington City Hall.

(Ethan Burks, WFIU/WTIU News)

Bloomington will follow along with the statewide trend in trying to establish an independent redistricting commission.

Several Indiana voter advocacy groups have been calling for this change to take the authority of drawing legislative maps out of the hands of lawmakers to make districts more fair and more competitive.

READ MORE: Republican Legislative Leaders Cast Doubt On Shadow Redistricting Commission

City council president Steve Volan said Bloomington should stay consistent with the state to make its own local commission.

“There’s a greater concern which was that we essentially were picking our constituents, and that shouldn’t be the case," Volan said. "There’s been a movement afoot at the state level for awhile now that there should be an independent commission that redistricts every decade.”

The commission would be made up of nine people and offer balance by appointing three Republicans, three Democrats and three Independents. The city council would make those appointments.

The commission would form every ten years after the census, and then disband until the next decade when it’s time to draw the district lines again.

"I think we're all concerned that the census came at a bad time this year with the pandemic and that there was a lack of participation," councilmember Dave Rollo said. 

Volan responded by saying any changes or recounting of the census would push back the commission as well.

"Redistricting comes after the census, so however long that takes," Volan said. "Eventually we will have that information."

Volan said in a typical year the census data is made public the following summer. If everything stays on schedule, he said he expects the city can start forming the commission in July 2021.

The city council is expected to vote on the proposal next Wednesday, Dec. 16.

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