IBJOpinion

VAUGHN: Courts will decide basic election issues

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Julia VaughnAlthough voters in Marion County won’t cast ballots for City-County elections until 2015, two courts are considering cases that will have a major impact on local elections.

The Indiana Supreme Court will once again get the final say on how City-County Council districts are divided—a vital matter since where the lines fall affects who gets elected and which party controls the council.

And, the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana will decide if Marion County party bosses will continue to be the only votes that matter in county judicial elections.

The events of the past two years mirror what happened 10 years ago when the state Supreme Court was called in to settle partisan bickering over new maps.

While it is not at all surprising that we find ourselves back at the same place, what is disappointing is that this long, expensive and divisive argument could have been avoided if redistricting were about voters’ choosing their representatives instead of being about incumbent politicians trying to gain advantage.

While most agree that the maps drawn by the court in 2003 make sense and have served voters well, the problem with a court-driven redistricting process is that it gives the public no input.

That’s why the court should choose one of the maps submitted to the council in the public process conducted in 2012.

I am, of course, partial to the map created by the Common Cause Indiana board because I know it was created in a common-sense way that sought to protect communities of interest and the rights of minority voters while enhancing competition for council elections.

And while it’s the Supreme Court’s responsibility to finish the job our ultra-partisan council couldn’t get done, it’s time to make sure this doesn’t happen again. A bipartisan team of state legislators from Marion County should sponsor legislation to give the task of local redistricting to a nonpartisan commission of community representatives. A similar system works in Lake County.

While the Indiana Supreme Court is deciding who will run from what districts in 2015, federal Judge Richard L. Young has been asked to decide if Marion County voters will get a real say in county judicial elections.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Indiana and Common Cause Indiana are challenging the county’s unique judicial selection process that puts the major party bosses in control, making the public vote a meaningless exercise.

While I understand that the Marion County process was put into place decades ago to ensure this community would have a bipartisan bench, we are no longer a one-party county, so the law has outlived its usefulness.

Instead of guaranteeing political diversity, an undeniably important goal, the major impact has been to deny voters our constitutional right to cast a meaningful vote for Superior Court judge. Voting for judges in Marion County shouldn’t be reduced to ratifying the decisions of a handful of partisan honchos.

Our lawsuit has already survived several obstacles, including attempts by the state to have it thrown out, and we look forward to our day in court.

Unfortunately, this issue will not likely be resolved in time for the next round of local elections. And, the court will only answer the question of whether the current system is constitutional; it won’t put a new judicial selection process in place.

If the Marion County process is invalidated, state policymakers will decide if voters, or a judicial nominating commission, make these decisions. Either way is a big improvement over the status quo.•

__________

Vaughn is policy director for Common Cause/Indiana, a nonpartisan citizens lobbying organization that works for open, honest and accountable government. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Angela IS the best RD

  2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

  3. Good day! I just want to testify how i got my loan from Mr. Eric Lefkofsky after i applied several times from various loan lenders who claimed to also testify right in this forum,i thought the testimonies where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan. Until a friend of mine introduce me to this popular Mr. Eric Lefkofsky who promised to help me and indeed he did as he promised without any form of delay. I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr. Eric lefkofsky who indeed helped me with the loan and changed my belief. I promised to share this testimony after I got my loan. I don't know if you are in any way in need of a genuine and urgent loan,free feel to contact Mr. Eric Lefkofsky via their email{grouponfunding@hotmail.com}

  4. Its a THUG issue. Bleecker Street and NYX are thug bars. They attract thugs of all races. Places that attract thugs need to be kicked out of Broad Ripple. Ain't nobody got time for that!

  5. Hello everyone, My name is Marian Gareth, I am from the Texas, United State, am here to testify of how i got my loan from Mr Andre Frank {frankloancompany@yahoo.com} after i applied Two times from various loan lenders who claimed to be lenders right in this forum,i thought their lending where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan.Until a friend of mine introduce me to Mr Andre Frank the C.E.O of Andre Frank Loan Company who promised to help me with a loan of my desire and he really did as he promised without any form of delay, I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr Andre Frank, who really help me with my loan and changed my lief for better. I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan, free feel to contact Mr Andre Frank on his email{ Frankloancompany@yahoo.com} for help

ADVERTISEMENT