Indiana census data will be used to draw district maps
Census: These states will win, lose seats in the next Congress
California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each lost a seat.
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The Census Bureau will release data on Thursday that states will use to draw the Statehouse and congressional district maps, after delays due to COVID-19.
Indiana is neither gaining nor losing congressional seats, but state legislative leaders will still need to redraw the maps to ensure that all political districts contain roughly the same number of people after population changes.
How these maps look matters: The districts the Hoosiers are placed in can influence the likelihood of a Republican or Democrat representing them in Congress and the Statehouse, and each party’s influence over the next 10 years. .
They will not be redrawn again until the 2030 census.
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Redistricting is important. Shortly after the last round of redistricting, Republicans won a supermajority in the House and have held it in both houses ever since.
Here’s how the process will unfold in Indiana.
Who will draw the maps?
The General Assembly is responsible for approving new districts. Because Republicans have supermajorities in both houses, Republican leaders will control the process.
This includes Senate Chairman Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, House Speaker Todd Huston, House Elections and Allocations Committee Chairman Rep. Tim Wesco, and Senate Elections Committee Chairman Senator Jon Ford.
How will lawmakers create the maps?
Lawmakers have taken public testimony about what the Hoosiers want to see on the new maps while they wait for the release of census data, but they don’t have to take that advice.
The General Assembly will probably return to present the proposed cards in mid-September. These maps will be contained in legislation and follow the standard legislative process, which means there will be more opportunities for public comment at the Statehouse. After both houses voted to enact the new maps, Governor Eric Holcomb is almost certain to sign the legislation.
Citizens likely won’t have much time to look at the maps and provide input before they’re approved, a concern of some activist groups and those who testified at public redistricting hearings across the country. State. There are also no plans for further hearings outside of Indianapolis, making it harder for those living in corners of the state to comment.
Did the legislators hire anyone to help them?
Neither the House nor the Senate Republican caucus has signed agreements with consultants to help draw the legislative maps or provide data. However, House Republicans have engaged prominent DC attorney Jason Torchinsky and his law firm Hotlzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC “to provide legal advice on redistricting and election-related matters.”
Torchinsky is general counsel for the National Republican Redistricting Trust and has defended other Republican cards in court. The engagement letter obtained by IndyStar says the law firm could represent Huston if these new cards are challenged in court.
“Federal law is extremely complex,” Wesco told reporters Wednesday, “and we have to be very careful about how we go through that process and make sure we’re doing it right and doing it legally and following the law.”
As of Tuesday, the state had paid the company more than $2,700 from a pool of state funds set aside for redistricting costs.
Democrats such as Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington and activists have criticized the decision to hire outside counsel.
“Hiring Torchinsky to be the House Republicans redistricting consultant shows that this will be a complete gerrymandering process,” Pierce told reporters on Wednesday. “This consultant is kind of a linchpin in the midst of National Republicans’ efforts to maximize this process for their party, and so I think that shows us the direction we’re going.”
What is gerrymandering and does Indiana do?
Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing constituency lines to favor one political party or group over another.
Indiana’s current state and congressional maps significantly favor Republicans, according to a recent study commissioned by activist group Women4Change and supplemented by George Washington University political science professor Christopher Warshaw.
Warshaw came to this conclusion by looking at the number of votes lost – or the number of votes above what is needed to win – in Democratic districts compared to those in Republican districts.
In the 2012 House race immediately after redistricting, for example, the efficiency gap — or the difference between Republican and Democratic votes wasted — was more extreme than 95% of other Statehouse elections across the country. and in Indiana over the past five decades.
Similarly, the results of the 2014 Senate elections, when the 2011 plan was fully implemented, had an efficiency gap greater than 96% of the other states’ Senate elections. A similar gap exists on the side of Congress.
Warshaw concluded that the disparity was not just due to Indiana’s natural geographic makeup.
Wesco argued that the maps currently used by Indiana are fairer than those used in the early 2000s when Democrats controlled the House.
What activists and Democrats want to happen
For years, Democrats and activists have pushed for an independent redistricting commission to draw Indiana’s maps. Their argument is that only an independent group can do this without party influence.
But Republicans have long suppressed any legislation that would bring about that change.
Now activists — such as Common Cause and All IN for Democracy — and Democrats are calling for a transparent process with more time for analysis of proposed maps and public comment after the proposed maps are released.
What we monitor
Here’s what IndyStar will be looking for after the new maps are released:
- Will the new maps help Republicans retain their supermajorities or even expand them?
- Will communities be divided?
- How will the power dynamic between rural and urban interests change, given the expected population growth in cities?
- What will lawmakers do about the 5th congressional district? With each election cycle, the district has moved further to the left. In 2020, Republican Victoria Spartz only beat her Democratic opponent Christina Hale by about 4 percentage points.
- Will legislative leaders try to get their own party members out of their constituencies? It’s already arrived. In 2011, Congressman Todd Rokita was kicked out of the boundaries of the 4th congressional district. Leadership has consistently bumped into the head of socially conservative Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, so it’s a district to watch. He was accused of making anti-Catholic and anti-Muslim remarks before being elected.
Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.