Tim Lanane: Let’s take redistricting out of the political process

Keywords Forefront / Opinion

DEBATE QShould Indiana create an independent commission to draw districts after the 2020 census?

Right now in Indiana, those who are given the opportunity to vote on important issues and make grand decisions affecting a great deal of people choose exactly who gets to put them into office.

Politicians in our General Assembly, your own state senators and representatives, currently have the ability to choose who votes for them. I have always been of the belief that the people should have all the power to decide who shall represent them, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now.

For the past six years, I have fought to establish an independent redistricting commission to put the power of drawing district lines back into the hands of the people. Each year, I have been met with resistance from the Republican supermajority.

Right now, politicians create the criteria determining which Hoosiers will vote for them. They can manipulate the borders of their own districts to include those who are more likely to vote for them and box out those who likely won’t, thus ensuring their future success at getting re-elected. My commission would allow a nonpartisan body to draw these maps so no one party manipulates voting districts in their own party’s favor.

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census survey is conducted to determine population changes across the country. The majority party redraws congressional and state maps using the updated census data. The next census and redrawing of maps is in 2020. We are quickly approaching our final chance to create this commission before, once again, the Republican supermajority draws the maps even further in their own favor.

The last time we did this, in 2011, the Republicans were in charge and therefore drew the maps. This led to huge discrepancies in representation in the Statehouse. In 2016, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb received 51% of the vote while Republicans held 70% of House and 80% of Senate seats. That doesn’t make sense.

For me, this is not about any one political party. And I understand the viewpoints that some might have that, if Democrats were in charge, we would do the same thing. With that thinking, Republicans should support my independent commission so that, if one day Democrats did regain power, in either chamber, we could not repeat what they have done.

An independent commission is a common sense approach to ensuring Hoosiers are properly and fairly represented. The entire country needs to remember what our Founding Fathers set out for us: to create a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Indiana’s government is none of those things right now. But it can be. The upcoming legislative session is our last chance for another decade to make Indiana a government for the people once again.

I encourage you to call your state officials and tell them you support the creation of an independent redistricting commission. It’s time to stop politicians from rigging the system to stay in power.•

Lanane, a Democrat, is minority leader of the Indiana Senate. Send comments to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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