03/28/11 Senate Democrats have launched a redistricting website to encourage constituent participation in the redrawing of legislative and congressional district maps. The site focuses on public access and visitor interactivity. Senate Democrats hope that by encouraging public access to redistricting information and seeking public input, they may preserve Hoosiers’ best interests and lend accountability to the redistricting process.

At www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov/redistricting.htm, constituents can learn about the redistricting process and share their thoughts and opinions on how new maps could affect their representation. The new site also provides access to interactive Census maps, Indiana’s 2010 Census data and the state’s current district maps.

The state has also established three locations where the public can access map-making software and Census data to draw their own district maps. On the campuses of Indiana University-Bloomington, Indiana University-South Bend and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, members of the public can design their own proposals to share with legislators.

State Senator Tim Lanane (D-Anderson), the Democrat lead in the redistricting effort, says public input is vital in informing legislators how districts can best serve Hoosiers’ needs. “Every resident of Indiana is affected by state and federal laws, and they deserve to have representatives in Indianapolis and Washington who truly represent their interests and their community,” Sen. Lanane said. “Local perspective is what will make this the most effective process in protecting voter interests.”

Each of the four caucuses in the General Assembly will review the data and propose new district maps to account for population shifts within the state. After the proposed maps are made public, it will be imperative for Hoosiers to review the proposals and provide input on how the new maps could affect voters’ rights and access. Maps drawn by this General Assembly will play a part in constituent representation for the next decade.

As this process moves forward, Senate Democrats hope to encourage public input to promote:

  • Preservation of neighborhoods
  • Preservation of communities of interest
  • Protection of minority voters
  • Compactness to ensure connection between elected officials and their constituents
  • Simply shaped districts

Senate Democrat Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) says the caucus will also continue to push for an independent commission to redraw district maps. This year, the measure contained within Senate Bill 468 did not receive a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate Elections Committee.

“It is disappointing that Indiana has not joined so many other states to allow an independent group to develop proposals,” Sen. Simpson said. “It would be a great benefit for voters if the maps were drawn with their best interests in mind, instead of protection of incumbent officials. Competitive races where voters have a real choice of candidates are best for the democratic process.”

Currently 21 U.S. states have a redistricting commission that draws a plan for new district maps, advises the legislature on how to draw a plan or acts as a backup if the legislature fails to draw a plan for new maps.

For more information on the Senate Democrat Caucus visit www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov.