Indiana House Endorses Redistribution Cards That Favor GOP Qualified Majority

The Indiana House voted 67-31 Thursday to approve the proposed redistribution cards, while ensuring their qualified majority remains intact.

Only three Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal: Rep. Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington, Rep. John Jacob, R-Indianapolis, and Rep. Matt Hostettler, R-Patoka.

Ellington, whose district would become more winnable for Democrats under the proposed maps, argued that communities of interest were separated when his district was redesigned. Jacob was trained in the same district as a former Republican lawmaker.

Following:Democrats say the proposed cards are gerrymandered. Some Republicans aren’t happy either.

The maps, drawn by Republicans without Democratic input, are on the verge of retain the advantage of Republicans 39-11 in the Senate and give Republicans 69 of the 100 House seats, according to PlanScore analysis based on previous election data. The GOP currently has 71 of the 100 seats.

PlanScore is a non-partisan Campaign Legal Center tool used to score redistribution plans across the country.

It will also likely allow Republicans to retain seven of the nine congressional seats in Indiana and make the 5th District, which contains the suburbs of Hamilton County, a more reliable Republican district. Republican Victoria Spartz narrowly won her hotly contested race in 2020 according to current cards.

Christopher Warshaw, a professor of political science at George Washington University hired by the political activist group Women4Change, found that the proposed maps of the political districts of Congress and Indiana House showed “historically extreme levels of partisan bias. “.

Democrats say the Senate cards are even more unfair. They accused Republicans of gerrymandering, but Republican leaders contend that all adjustments to their maps were based on population changes and that they were transparent throughout the process.

House Speaker Todd Huston R-Fishers speaks during a representative vote for Indiana House on the redistribution maps on Thursday, September 23, 2021, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

Speaker of the House Todd Huston also pointed to the high number of elected county officials who are Republicans as proof that the Republican cards were right.

“We can choose which statistics we want to use to support our arguments,” Huston said, also referring to the statewide elected official data that Democrats typically refer to to argue they deserve more. seats. “I hold our cards.”

House Democrats attempted to throw away the proposed House card on Wednesday and offer their own version. They chose one submitted to the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, a commission with no real power, as part of their competition. The card they chose did not win this competition.

While the map the Democrats proposed was not as compact as the Republicans’ and appeared to spit out more local government units, they say it avoided any conflict of interest because it was drawn by a citizen, and not by lawmakers, and more accurately reflected the state’s current bipartisan balance, giving Republicans about 59 of 100 seats. This more accurately matches the percentage of votes Republicans won in the recent statewide election.

“They’re giving themselves a qualified majority that they don’t deserve,” Representative Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington said Wednesday. “Our definition of a fair card is not a card that gives Democrats 51 or more seats as much as we would like to have a card like that. We are really trying to get competitive cards that reflect the current base vote. of State .”

Republicans, however, criticized the cards for its 3.9 percent deviation from the ideal population of 67,855 people per district, compared to Republicans’ deviation of less than 1 percent. In other words, the districts proposed by Democrats varied more in size.

The Democrats’ proposal was rejected along party lines.

The bill containing the cards will now go through the process on the Senate side. The Senate Elections Committee will collect public testimony on Monday, September 27. If there is no change on the Senate side, the cards could be finalized as early as October 1.

Call IndyStar reporter Kaitlin Lange at 317-432-9270. Follow her on Twitter: @kaitlin_lange.

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