Supreme Court Gerrymandering Cases Press Release

Women4Change Indiana

 

Media contact: Alysa Villelli

Email: alysa@women4changeindiana.org

 

For Immediate Release

June 19, 2018

 

Supreme Court of the United States Spurs Advocates to Action

Indianapolis—On June 18, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the merits of the Gill v. Whitford and Benisek v. Lamone cases that challenged the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s and Maryland’s redistricting plans. This decision allows both states’ current maps to stand for the time being.

Women4Change Indiana (W4CI) continues to support the creation of an independent redistricting commission in Indiana to end the practice of partisan gerrymandering which prevents fair representation of voters’ interests.

“The Supreme Court’s decision reinforces the need for Indiana to join other states in setting a national example for fair redistricting reform,” said Martha Lamkin, Board Co-Chair of W4CI. “Partisan gerrymandering has the ability to threaten the fabric of our democracy and must be addressed.”

W4CI Co-Chair Patricia Castañeda continued, “With its partners in All IN for Democracy, W4CI works to encourage members of the Indiana General Assembly to create meaningful legislation to end gerrymandering by creating an independent redistricting commission.”

All Hoosiers should care about redistricting.  Districts that fairly represent voters’ interests give all Hoosiers equal opportunity to express the priorities of their families and communities.   An independent redistricting process will empower voter voices and reduce the impact of political party agendas. Gerrymandering creates barriers to competitive races for office, leading to the retention of incumbents and generating voter apathy. W4CI and its partners will continue their work to bring about redistricting reform because having fair voting districts is vital to democracy in Indiana and the entire United States.

 

About W4CI

Founded in 2017, Women4Change Indiana is a nonpartisan, grassroots, collaborative organization whose mission is to equip and mobilize women to engage effectively in political and civic affairs. Members work to strengthen democracy and to advocate for the leadership, health, safety, and dignity of all women in Indiana.

 

The Impacts of Gerrymandering in Indiana

What is gerrymandering?

Video from the Washington Post

 

How does gerrymandering impact Indiana?

  • Decreased voter turnout due to voters believing that their votes do not count

  • Political parties are able to protect their districts from the opposing party due to new computerized data analysis

  • Qualified candidates do not run for office and incumbents stay in office due to districts that do not reflect their communities

  • Candidates from the “radical fringes” of both parties run for office

  • Threatens the fabric and legitimacy of our democracy when votes do not have equal impact  

 

Why should Hoosiers care?

  • In the 2016 election, Indiana was ranked the 14th worst voter turnout amongst the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

  • 36 out of the 100 races for state representative are uncontested for 2018.

  • 6 out of the 25 races for state senate are uncontested for 2018.

  • In Indiana, “Republicans generally win 53 to 57% of the votes in state legislative races, but have drawn the maps with such surgical precision that they now find themselves in 71 to 80 of seats in Indiana House and Senate, respectively.” (Krull, Feb. 4, 2016).

  • In the 2018 Indiana House of Representatives election, 9 out of the 14 candidates running in the Indianapolis metro area are unopposed Democratic candidates (Ballotpedia, 2018).

  • Evidence of disparate impact in Indiana’s legislative districts can be seen in the results of the General Election in 2016:

    • Republican candidates won 7 seats in the US Congress. Democrats won 2.  If the percentages of votes for statewide Republican candidates (President, US Senate and Governor) had been reflected in the elections for US Congressional seats, the results would have given 5 seats to Republicans and 4 to Democrat candidates.  

    • 25 seats were up for election in the Indiana Senate.  11 (44%) were basically uncompetitive and 16 were held by incumbents, all of whom were reelected.  Republican candidates won 19 seats and Democrats won 6. If statewide pluralities had been reflected in these races, the Democrats would have at least doubled their seats from 6 to 12.

    • All 100 seats in the Indiana House of Representatives were up for election.  Of these, 26 were not contested—26% of the total. 4 additional seats had essentially uncompetitive opposition, receiving from 13%-19% of the vote.  Thus, 30 (30%) of the House seats were essentially uncompetitive. The final composition of the Indiana House was 70 Republicans and 30 Democrats.  If statewide pluralities had been reflected in the final results, Republicans would currently hold 51-57 seats and Democrats would hold 49-43 seats.

 

High Partisan Bias in Indiana

“Research by University of Sydney professor Simon Jackman, likewise, suggests that legislative maps in under a dozen states could be susceptible to challenge for extreme partisan bias.” (Brennan Center for Justice, 2018). Indiana is one of the few states with high Republican partisan bias, as seen by the following image.

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The Gill v. Whitford Case Infographic (Brennan Center for Justice)

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