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Critics Say Indiana Redistricting Bill Doesn't Do Enough

statehouse

(WFIU/WTIU News file)

An Indiana bill that would change the state's redistricting rules doesn't do enough to end gerrymandering, critics said.

The bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Greg Walker of Columbus would allow lawmakers to continue drawing the state's legislative and congressional district maps for the foreseeable future. Redistricting occurs every 10 years in conjunction with the U.S. census.

The proposal would require lawmakers to create geographically compact districts and avoid dividing places like cities or school districts. Lawmakers would also be banned from considering where incumbents live and would be required to provide reasons behind any deviations.

Walker said that while he doesn't believe the current districts are gerrymandered, he believes the proposed provisions help add accountability and make the process more transparent.

"I believe without wavering that voter confidence is the backbone of our election process," he said.

The measure recently passed the Indiana Senate.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Indianapolis said he supported the bill, but he would have preferred to create an independent commission because it's clear the state's maps are gerrymandered.

Government transparency advocates have been pushing to have an independent committee take over the redistricting process so the political party in power doesn't gain an unfair advantage.

Julia Vaughn, policy director for the political watchdog group Common Cause, said that while the current proposal doesn't do enough, "it's better than nothing."

"Redistricting reform is a two-part equation: Who draws the maps, and how do they draw them? We'd like to have at least one of those things," she said. "There always is the possibility that as you go through the session, you can make the bill stronger."

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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