The Journal Gazette
 
 
Sunday, September 26, 2021 1:00 am

ON THE MAPS

Citizen submissions address supermajority's overreach

Marilyn Moran-Townsend

What's the difference between the redistricting maps drawn by our legislators and the maps drawn by our citizens? Let me:

• Explain the difference.

• Share why it really matters.

• Urge you to act on this information.

The difference

The maps produced by the Indiana General Assembly, much to my disappointment, were drawn behind closed doors.

The House map was offered for public review and comment just 48 hours after it was released, and all three maps (Indiana House, Indiana Senate and U.S. House) were rushed to a vote that is based on an arbitrary and false deadline.

As a result, Indiana will complete the establishment of a decade-long redistricting system faster than virtually any other state in the nation.

Why do this?

By contrast, the maps submitted by the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, of which I am a Republican member, were developed after months of public hearings in every congressional district in the state. We heard:

1) Citizens do not believe they are fairly represented.

2) Voters are frustrated by the lack of competitiveness in their districts.

3) Many people believe their communities of interest were split apart in the last redistricting, harming their influence on issues they care about.

This input was the basis for developing criteria to draw the new redistricting maps. A public mapping competition attracted more than 60 citizen-drawn maps, all available for public scrutiny and comment throughout the competition.

From the beginning, we made public the criteria by which we would judge the maps.

Every map on our public website includes a “statement of intent”: what the citizen map drawer was attempting to accomplish with each map. The Citizens Commission, comprising three Republicans, three Democrats and three unaffiliated Hoosiers, voted on the submissions and provided the winning maps to the General Assembly.

What difference did this produce between the maps developed by the General Assembly and the maps developed by the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission? Because of the rushed process, we may not fully know all of the answers for months or years. But here is what I can tell you so far.

1) To increase fair representation:

Greg Knott of Bloomington submitted the winning congressional map. Knott noted that his goal was a congressional map that would give the two major political parties a share of seats that is proportional to their statewide vote share. Knott's winning maps would likely produce six Republican districts and three Democratic districts, with four of the nine districts potentially swinging between each party depending on future election trends.

By contrast, the legislators have drawn a map that would likely retain the 7-2 GOP majority in Congress. 

2) To enhance competitiveness:

The winning State Senate map was drawn by Adam Stant of Indianapolis. In his statement of intent, Stant noted that his map was drawn to maximize electoral competition. His entry was quite successful in achieving that goal.

Using the 2016 governor's race as his barometer, Stant's Senate map would produce an equal number of seats for Republicans and Democrats.

He also sought to avoid dividing counties, cities and townships. By contrast, the legislators have drawn a map that would likely retain the current GOP supermajority that has existed for the past decade. 

3) To preserve communities of interest:

The winning House map was created by Fort Wayne's Jorge Fernandez, a respected educator. In the statement of intent that Fernandez submitted with his entry, he noted that his first mapping goal was to respect the principle of one person, one vote, while preserving communities of interest.

Why it matters

The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission maps will more closely reflect the proportionality of Indiana voters. Our maps intend to offer more competitiveness. Our maps are designed to keep communities of interest together.

Because our maps honor what citizens told us across the state, they were not designed to achieve a particular political objective.

But the most important outcome of the citizen-drawn maps is how foundational they are to the democracy we all want to preserve.

Because the process was transparent, and because the Citizens Commission really listened to public input to develop the criteria, we expect that voters will have more trust in the process.

Call to action

We have demonstrated that a multi-partisan group of Hoosiers can work together to generate maps in the public interest, not political interest. Now it's your turn.

Contact your legislators today or tomorrow and tell them to adopt the citizen-drawn maps instead of their own. And beyond the maps, urge them to adopt the citizen-led process for redistricting. That will make the difference.

Fort Wayne resident Marilyn Moran-Townsend is a Republican representative to the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission.

More info

By phone

• To reach your state representative, call (800) 382-9842.

• To reach your state senator, call (800) 382-9467.

On the web

• For more contact information, go to iga.in.gov/

• To see the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission's congressional district map created by Greg Knott:

https://portal.indiana-mapping.org/submission/p4649

• To see the winning Indiana House district map created by Jorge Fernandez:

https://portal.indiana-mapping.org/submission/p4743

• For an interactive version of the Indiana Senate district map created by Adam Stant:

https://portal.indiana-mapping.org/submission/p4619

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