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Redistricting expert calls Indiana plan 'the most extreme gerrymander in history'

Posted at 7:38 AM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 07:38:05-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers voiced their concerns and frustration Thursdsay at the Statehouse over plans to approve redistricting maps that will guide Indiana elections for the next 10 years.

Protests over the just-released maps stem from an analysis that shows the proposed maps are gerrymandered.

Women4Change Indiana commissioned a national expert on gerrymandering, Dr. Christopher Warshaw, to examine why one party holds highly disproportionate supermajorities in Indiana's General Assembly and congressional delegation.

"Unfortunately, the maps that have been presented to us, according to the Women4Change, that came out earlier today, are on track to be more gerrymandered than what we have in place," said Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana's Director of Advocacy and Public Policy.

Thursday morning, Women4Change hosted a meeting where Warshaw broke down some of the ways the proposed maps favor the party in power.

"These seats around Indianapolis, particularly on the Statehouse map, where the Democrats are packed into a small number of overwhelmingly democratic districts, really limits their representation in the Statehouse," Warshaw said.

His take on the proposed U.S. House of Representatives map?

"Republicans would always win seven out of nine seats. This map would basically always favor Republicans in Indiana," Warshaw said. "I think that as Americans, we should aspire for more from our democracy. At the end of the day, this is one of the most extreme gerrymanders in history."

Gerrymandering favors those in power, regardless of political affiliations. Women4Change said they'd be looking into the fairness of maps, whether it was Republicans or Democrats who had the upper hand.

"If we see down the road, at some point, Democrats also guilty of this same sin which is gerrymandering, we look forward to working with Dr. Warshaw to provide similar analysis to those maps," Blair said.

Despite the overwhelming odds that the maps will pass as proposed, people aren't giving up hope. Blair said they're keeping a close eye on the situation.

"Our legal team is watching this process and they'll be watching and seeing what happens if these maps are passed," Blair said.

For those disillusioned by the system and perhaps thinking about not voting, Blair shares this message.

"We have to keep showing up and making our voices heard or else we'll never make a difference," Blair said.

During Thursday's public meeting at the Statehouse, some Hoosiers wanted to know more about how the maps were made. They urged lawmakers to increase transparency and access during the redistricting process.

"We ask again, give the public access to all the information and data used for redistricting. When maps are released, disclose which redistricting criteria was prioritized," Teresa Basey with the League of Women Voters said.

"Fundamentally, in order for the process to be more fair and more democratic, we all need to be involved in a way that presents the opportunity to give direct feedback," Robbie Slaughter, of Carmel said.

Voters also urged lawmakers to hold additional redistricting hearings during non-work hours and in cities other than Indianapolis.

A vote on the first round of maps is scheduled for Monday.

The proposed maps for the State Senate Districts will be released next Tuesday.

As of this story being published, there is just one public hearing scheduled for public comment on the Senate map, Monday, September, 27. No time has been set. A first vote on that map is scheduled for the next day.