Representative government requires consensual agreement on who can vote, where they can vote, and how to count the vote. Our own nation’s struggle with these matters has long been colored by a wealthy minority’s fear of majority rule, a fear that colors many specific issues and often proves decisive. Why is Indiana one of the most Gerrymandered states in America? How did we come to pioneer those despicable voter ID laws? Why is our voter turnout so alarmingly low?
Present district lines, artfully drawn by a partisan committee, have given us a state full of “safe” Republican districts. As a result, our legislature is much more heavily Republican than the citizens of the state. In the state legislature a special committee is supposed to study how other states redistrict, and propose reform. Its deadline is December 1, 2016, but it has met only once—October, 2015—and appears quiescent. We should press this committee to do its job, in accordance with the message suggested by our local League of Women Voters: “Thanks for your leadership on redistricting reform. I look forward to the resumption of the committee’s meetings and will be following the work of the study committee closely. Indiana needs an independent redistricting commission.” (California recently adopted such a commission by means of Proposition 11, a citizen referendum.)
Urge these state legislators to do their job! Email or call these contacts:
- Representative Jerry Torr, Chairman Interim Study Committee on Redistricting
- Phone: (800) 384-9481
- Senator Brandt Hershman, Vice Chairman Interim Study Committee on Redistricting
- Phone: (800) 382-9467
Another disgrace is our state’s voter ID law. The corporate-sponsored ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) adopted our law as the template for further propagation among the states because ours had survived Supreme Court scrutiny. Ostensibly to discourage voter fraud—a demonstrably negligible threat—the likely purpose of the voter ID requirement is to suppress the left-leaning vote; its targets include youth, women, and communities of color. One of our legislatures passed the voter ID law; a subsequent one can repeal it.
Many political ills, including our dismally low voter turnout, might well be avoided by replacing winner-take-all with a more representative election system. One such possibility is proportional representation by party. This system is characteristic of parliamentary governments, but could easily be adopted in some of our own elections, such as the election of at-large City Council members. Another possibility is instant runoff, or rank order, voting—already employed with notable success in San Francisco, Cambridge, and other U.S. cities. If such innovations be under local control, we should give them serious consideration.
Keyssar, Alexander (2012). Voter suppression returns. Harvard Magazine, July-
Hoyer, Patsy (2014). Why we oppose Indiana’s voter ID law. Journal & Courier, August 17.
Indiana State Teachers Association (2014). Study finds Indiana one of the worst states for gerrymandering. August 21.
National Organization for Women (2014). Voter suppression targets women, youth and communities of color. Issue Advisory, Part One. August.
Shella, Jim (2015). Supreme Court ruling could lead to closer elections in Indiana. WISH TV. June 29.
Ballotpedia, Redistricting in Indiana.
Monroe County Public Library, Be A Voter