In 2014 Indiana had the lowest Election Day turnout in the nation. On July 14th Sam Harnish will address one of the causes of voter apathy and low voter turnout – redistricting and the accompanying Gerrymandering that leaves voters with no meaningful choice on Election Day. A Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting was established by the Indiana Legislature (HEA 1003 (2015)) to study alternative approaches to mapping congressional and legislative districts and to define standards and guidelines that should be used in that process. Since there is no requirement that the legislature follow the recommendations of the committee, only citizen involvement and oversight will make anything change.
Redistricting by the sitting legislature is frequently accompanied by Gerrymandering, or the drawing of district lines to protect incumbents’ seats, or to provide one specific group with political advantage. As discussed in the movie “Gerrymandering: the Movie” (available online at http://on.aol.com/video/gerrymandering--film-517357811), this Gerrymandering depresses meaningful discussion of issues and leaves voters with no meaningful choice on Election Day. This lack of meaningful choices leads to low voter turnout (Why vote of there is only one candidate, or if there is only one candidate who has a chance of winning?). Gerrymandering also leaves our elected representatives with no real motivation to address the problems of all their constituents (Why worry if I know I will be unopposed in the next election?).
Some areas that will be addressed are: (1) where should boundaries be drawn, (2) what factors should be considered when drawing district lines, and (3) what citizens can do now to monitor the process of redistricting as we get ready for the next census.
After an enlistment in the Marine Corps, Sam Harnish received his BBA in Finance from Cleveland State University, and later his MBA in Finance from Northwestern University. After his retirement he returned to school getting a MFA in Creative Writing from Roosevelt University. He has been interested in politics ever since he handed out literature for Kennedy/Johnson on the streets of his hometown of Clarion, Pennsylvania.