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Editorial: It's time to end gerrynmandering

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Monday, August 29, 2016 05:24 am
Anderson has become the latest Indiana city to urge the General Assembly to adopt long-needed redistricting reform. It joins Michigan City, South Bend, Lafayette, West Lafayette and Vincennes as well as Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters in calling for an end to the rigged system known as gerrymandering. Every 10 years, with release of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, legislative districts are redrawn. They are supposed to be drawn in the public interest, with roughly equal populations and sensible boundaries encircling people with common interests. But using gerrymandering, whichever party has the majority in a state legislature draws districts strictly for selfish, partisan reasons.

Each party indulges in gerrymandering when it gets a turn at bat, so this truly would be a bipartisan reform. Right now it’s Republicans who benefit. They have created so many noncompetitive districts that a majority of races for the Indiana House went unopposed in 2014. Republicans have supermajorities now in both the House and Senate, so they have little incentive to work with Democrats or listen to the voters.

There are many ways this partisan abomination could be ended. The method backed by the six Indiana cities is to replace redistricting by the politicians in the General Assembly with redistricting by a nonpartisan citizen panel.

Indiana is not alone in seeking reform. Two dozen states have attacked gerrymandering head-on, reports The New York Times. Eleven have set up independent redistricting commissions or other politically neutral mechanisms. Legal challenges have been mounted in half a dozen others. In seven more, including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, popular movements, state legislatures and even the Republican governors Larry Hogan of Maryland, John Kasich of Ohio and Mike Pence of Indiana, who is now Donald J. Trump’s running mate, have said it’s time to outlaw gerrymandering.

It should be noted that Republicans would not likely lose their legislative majorities under redistricting reform. But they would not have such ridiculously lopsided majorities. With more competitive districts, voter turnout would probably increase. Indiana had the lowest voter turnout in the United States at 28 percent in 2014. That is not a record to be proud of.



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