Indiana partisan redistribution criticized Bloomington, Monroe County

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The Hoosier Republicans redesigned federal and state constituencies to help maintain their grip on power, but in doing so, they undermined the will of voters, according to a political science professor and the League of Women Voters of Indiana.

A representative of a Democratic state said he expects recent Republicans’ actions to produce an increasingly extreme legislative agenda, including, for next year, perhaps a law on the Texan abortion.

The GOP redistribution plan:Fewer Indiana House districts for Monroe County

Four people interviewed by the Herald-Times agreed that the harsh partisan gerrymandering that Republicans began 10 years ago essentially determines the winners before the first votes are cast, leading to more extreme partisanship and fewer compromise, damages Indiana’s economy and reputation, and ultimately undermines the electorate’s faith in democracy.

Matt Pierce, District 61 State Representative

“It basically causes people to say, ‘My vote doesn’t count anymore. The solution is there, ”said State Representative Matt Pierce, whose District 61 covers much of Bloomington.

Despite repeated attempts, neither the Republican House leadership nor State Representative Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington, could be reached for comment.

Redraw the lines

Every 10 years, after the census, the states redraw the boundaries of political constituencies to take into account population movements. In some states, borders are drawn by independent commissions, but in most states, including Indiana, the maps are drawn by the political party that controls the state house. The two political parties across the country typically redraw their cards to gain a partisan advantage, which means they are trying to downplay the power of the opposing party’s voters.

Marjorie Hershey

Marjorie Hershey, professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University, said that to determine the level of partisan advantage, it’s helpful to look at voting stocks in races across the board. State, like the secretary of state, because people tend to vote along partisan lines, as few people know who is running for that office or what the incumbent is doing.

In Indiana’s last election for this post, in 2018, Republican Connie Lawson received 56.2% of the vote, Democrat Jim Harper got 40.6%. This split means that one should expect parties to receive roughly the same representation in the Statehouse and in the US Congress.

However, Republicans control 73% of Statehouse seats and 78% of congressional seats.

Across the country, both parties are engaging in this process: In Ohio, Republicans hold 75% of the House seats even though they only garner 52% of the popular vote, according to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In Maryland, Democrats hold 88% of the House seats, even though they only get 60% of the popular vote.

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The process of redistributing constituencies to gain political advantage is called gerrymandering, and Hershey said it boils down to representatives choosing their constituents – rather than voters choosing their representatives.

Linda Hanson, co-chair of the Non-Partisan League of Indiana Voters, said Republicans have crammed Democratic voters into tight districts, such as Bloomington or Indianapolis, to reduce the chances of overthrowing their Statehouse or seats in Congress.

The league has advocated for years for districts to be redrawn by someone other than lawmakers, and Hanson said it finds troubling that Republicans are redrawing the cards behind closed doors.

“I think it’s an abomination. I think everything should be public, ”she said. “The fact that this caucus can operate without anyone from the super-minority being present is a real disservice to voters and democracy. “

‘Conflict of interest’

Pierce also called for an independent commission and said lawmakers should not have the power to draw their own district maps.

“All lawmakers have an inherent conflict of interest,” he said.

Ten years ago, Republicans in Indiana carried out “one of the most extreme gerrymandering efforts” in history, Pierce said. This year, they only had to make a few minor adjustments to maintain their overwhelming advantage.

Following:GOP’s new State Senate map would change the dividing line in County Monroe

Jim Allison, a retired behavior specialist from Bloomington, said the redesigned maps go against the basic notion of “one person, one vote” because Republican votes in Hoosier State count more than the votes of the Hoosier Democrats.

The number of seats parties get at state and federal levels should reflect the proportion of votes parties receive, he said. It is a “key to representative democracy”.

Allison said congressional districts also do not reflect common interests between similar communities.

“Take our own 9th arrondissement,” he said. “We’re heavy in tourism and all kinds of research and manufacturing, with Indiana University, Cook and his ilk in the medical field, Crane in electronics. If they were all together in the 9th arrondissement, they could have a lot more leverage than they do in the type of congressional legislation that affects our jobs. But where does the new map place these communities? In a district with several small counties on the Ohio River that have no economic connection to Monroe County.

“This is not good management of our political capital,” Allison said.

Pierce, Hanson and Allison recognize that partisan gerrymandering has been around for decades and that both parties in Indiana have benefited from it. However, computing power now allows parties to override their partisan advantages to eliminate competition.

Princeton University analysis indicates Indiana has no competitive districts for the US Congress, while election forecaster fivethirtyeight.com calculates that for the two US House seats Democrats hold of Indiana, they have a 91% and 97% chance of retaining them, while Republicans “the odds of retaining their seven seats vary between 94% and over 99%.

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Hanson and Hershey said extreme partisan gerrymandering produces many other negative outcomes for voters.

Hanson said that once the districts are drawn in such a way that the incumbents don’t have to worry about losing to the other side, they only have to worry about a main challenger, who will tend to be more. extreme than the incumbent.

This means that whoever wins is more likely to represent a fringe of the winning party, which makes compromise with the opposition party less likely, as marginal candidates are less likely to endorse work on the other side of the line. gone, she said.

While Hanson said she thinks the dynamic causes people to lose interest in elections, Hershey said anger and fear tend to be powerful motivators and make it more likely that people will vote and contribute. money for political campaigns.

But the fear and anger that are stoked by hyperparty elections tend to stoke people – but in no way solve problems, Hershey said.

“You get postures – rather than policies,” she said.

Boris Ladwig is the municipal government reporter for the Herald-Times. Contact him at [email protected]


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