Ken de la Bastide: Ken de la Bastide column: Residents should drive effort to create redistricting commission

·3 min read

Oct. 2—The maps for congressional and Indiana General Assembly districts have been finalized, with the end result likely to be continued domination by Republicans for the next decade.

The entire process appeared to lack transparency with the proposed maps first revealed to the public on the GOP legislative chamber websites.

There was little input from Democrats at the Statehouse and the public hearings could only be described as window dressing.

On the day the maps were finalized, Democrats offered several amendments seeking changes in Fort Wayne and the Lafayette area.

Of course, the Democrats cried foul when the maps were made public and the minority is complaining that the GOP districts neutralize their vote in several of the districts.

Unless a group files a federal lawsuit to have a court determine if the maps were gerrymandered, they will be in effect for the next 10 years.

For several years Democrats in the Legislature and citizen groups have pushed for the creation of a bipartisan commission to develop the district boundaries.

Politicians at all levels of government state they want more public participation in decisions being made that impact their constituents.

Twice before the Indiana House, even though there were Republican majorities, passed legislation to create a non-partisan commission to create the boundaries.

Those efforts failed in the Indiana Senate.

So what will it take to have a bipartisan commission created when the 2030 census figures are released and state lawmakers create new district boundaries for next decade?

That is a question every voter in Indiana should be interested in and voice their opinion on in the future.

The effort has a decade to attempt to change the process. It should be finalized within the next six years.

Voters should ask gubernatorial candidates of both parties, starting in 2024, if they support the creation of a commission and if it will be a priority.

The question should also be asked of every candidate for a seat in the Indiana House and Indiana Senate if they support a commission.

The conversation with candidates should start with next year's election cycle.

The question of how many members should serve on a commission is also up for debate. It should be an odd number to prevent tie votes. Preferably, there should be seven or nine members — two from each political party — and include three or five members from the community at large with no stated allegiance to a particular political party.

The maps shouldn't be developed by a firm in the nation's capital, and the commission should have sufficient funding to select a company to help create the computer-generated districts.

The computer data should only include the population number with no information on party affiliation.

The districts should be compact, not dividing cities, towns and townships where possible and should consider common interests.

The general public should be involved in the entire process with hearings for citizen input long before the maps are revealed.

The residents of the Hoosier State have the next decade to bring about the change when it comes to drawing district maps.

Senior Reporter Ken de la Bastide's column publishes Saturdays. Contact him at ken.delabastide@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4863.

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