INDIANA, USA — Indiana legislators are inviting members of the community to talk about the state's upcoming redistricting process. The state is required to redraw districts every 10 years, once the U.S. Census is complete.
Legislators ultimately have the final call, but the state will hold several public meetings in August to get input on how the maps should be drawn.
A recent report analyzed Indiana's legislative and congressional maps from 2011, the last time they were redrawn, and found evidence of partisan bias. According to the report, Indiana legislative maps are more biased toward one party than 95% of the maps used across the country.
The report also highlighted the effect of gerrymandering - the act of manipulating congressional or legislative district maps in a way that gives one party disproportionate power over the other.
With the Republican supermajority in the Indiana Statehouse, voter organizations are concerned that the new maps will end up being more biased toward Republicans - unless the public speaks up.
Those calling for change say they want voters to feel accurately represented in their own districts. Voting rights activists also say that changing district maps will keep incumbents from feeling like their wins are guaranteed.
Gerrymandering also can have a negative effect on voter turnout. Indiana ranked in the bottom 10 for voter turnout for the past decade and ranked last in 2014.
“[Gerrymandering] creates voter apathy, said Dr. Sheila Kennedy, a law professor at O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs at IUPUI. "Voter apathy isn't just well, I don't care what happens in my country. It's the result of saying, 'No matter what I do and in the voting booth - is it going to make a difference?'”
The public meetings to discuss redistricting will be held from Aug. 6 through Aug. 11. The meetings are separated by geographic area - north, south and central.
The southern meetings will be held in Anderson, Columbus, Evansville and Sellersburg and will be chaired by State Senator Jon Ford of Terre Haute. Ford is also the chair of the Senate Committee on Elections.
If you are unable to attend a meeting in person, the meetings will be streamed and available to view online.
Legislators also said an online tool with mapping software will be launched in late August, which will allow Indiana residents to draw their own maps for consideration.
Here's a full list of the public meetings:
North – Friday, Aug. 6 and Saturday, Aug. 7 at the following Ivy Tech campuses:
Lafayette | 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 6
Valparaiso | 3-5 p.m. CDT Friday, Aug. 6
Fort Wayne | 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 7
Elkhart | 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7
South – Friday, Aug. 6 and Saturday, Aug. 7 at the following Ivy Tech campuses:
Anderson | 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 6
Columbus | 4-6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6
Evansville | 9-11 a.m. CDT Saturday, Aug. 7
Sellersburg | 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7
Central – Wednesday, Aug. 11 at the Statehouse
Indianapolis | 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11 in the House Chamber at the Indiana Statehouse