Indianapolis, IN—Today, voting rights organizations condemned the actions of the Senate super-majority who killed an effort by State Senator Fady Qaddoura to offer an amendment to create a summer study committee on redistricting. On Monday, in the Senate Elections Committee, Senator Fady Qaddoura’s attempt to introduce the study committee amendment was short circuited when the majority caucus attorney ruled the amendment “non-germane” to HB1285. HB 1285, which earlier passed the Indiana House of Representatives, deals with local redistricting. The majority caucus offered no explanation as to why an amendment calling for a study of redistricting is not germane to legislation setting parameters for local redistricting.
“This cynical action by the Senate leadership to deny even a discussion about how redistricting might be done differently is further proof of why reform is so desperately needed in Indiana” said Julia Vaughn, Common Cause Indiana Executive Director. “The General Assembly has spent hours this session debating legislation promoting division and fanning the flames of the culture wars – bills designed to win favor with a small sector of the electorate. If more legislators represented districts that were competitive during the General Election, we’d see less extremism and more compromise. I guess it’s no wonder the Senate leadership wants to sweep redistricting reform under the rug,”
“With partisan legislators’ affinity for gerrymandering, it’s no wonder they don’t connect the concept of reform to redistricting,” said Randy Schmidt, President of the Indiana Alliance for Retired Americans. “There is a strong and growing movement of Hoosiers that want to see reforms enacted that will bring free, fair, and competitive elections back to Indiana. We’re disappointed that the Senate continues to block any effort to reform redistricting.”
Senator Qaddoura’s amendment is identical to legislation that enjoyed bi-partisan support when it was passed in 2015 as HEA1003. HEA1003 was sponsored by then-Speaker of the House Brian Bosma and then-President Pro Tem David Long, as well as the minority leaders in both chambers.
The move to block the amendment comes just one week after the full Senate supported a resolution honoring the work of the voter-led Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC). In 2021, the ICRC modeled for the state how an independent, transparent, and fair redistricting process led by everyday Hoosiers of all political backgrounds can achieve fair maps.
“It’s disappointing to see the State Senate refuse to hold a vote on simply studying redistricting reform,” said Linda Hanson, League of Women Voters of Indiana Co-President. “There is something wrong when legislators cannot even offer an amendment to debate how to bring greater fairness and transparency to our democratic processes. It’s important that Indiana study and learn from other states on how we can improve our redistricting process so that it’s inclusive of the voters.”
There is a growing movement for fair redistricting in Indiana. For years, voters in every corner of the state have united to demand an independent process that allows the citizens to draw our own Congressional and state legislative districts. Now, many local legislative bodies are moving to such a model. Last year, officials in Monroe County and the City of Bloomington voted to have an independent redistricting commission draw new districts based on All in for Democracy’s successful model. Common Cause Indiana is lobbying the Indianapolis City-County Council to consider moving to an independent, voter-led model.
“The supermajority's determined refusal even to talk about redistricting reform is telling,” said Phil Goodchild, Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation (IFCL). “It points up the very problem a citizen-led redistricting process would address. When the people's representatives repeatedly ignore requests, by many hundreds of voters across our state, for a fairer, more inclusive redistricting process, it's a stone-cold demonstration of how poorly they reflect the people of Indiana."