League of Women Voters to host online town hall meeting on redistricting

 

The League of Women Voters of La Porte County announced it is hosting a free online public Town Hall meeting Saturday, March 20, at 10 a.m. to discuss the upcoming congressional and legislative redistricting process.

During the Town Hall session, panelists will discuss the history of redistricting and explain the impact of drawing boundaries to favor one political party (known as gerrymandering) and what other states have done to ensure a fair process.

Every 10 years, with the release of new U.S. Census data, new legislative districts are mapped out to represent the revised population numbers. As the population increases, so may the number of statewide districts and the number of elected officials representing Hoosiers in Congress and in the Indiana State Legislature. The process of drawing the district boundaries is called redistricting.

Leigh Morris, former mayor of LaPorte, will serve as moderator for the Town Hall. “Making sure redistricting is done fairly and equitably is important to everyone. If it isn’t, everyone potentially suffers because legislative and congressional representation is designed to benefit politicians rather than the public,” Morris said.

Panelists participating in the Town Hall include: Indiana State Rep. Pat Boy; Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, professor of Political Science and director of the American Democracy Project with Indiana University South Bend; Justin Kiel, La Crosse Town Council member and publisher of The Regional News; Dr. Ellen Szarleta, director of Center for Urban and Regional Excellence and a professor at Indiana University Northwest; Nathan Patrick, a recent city council candidate in Michigan City; and Aaron Lachiewicz, a graduate student at Purdue University Northwest, where he majored in Organizational Leadership.

Due to the COVID pandemic, the release of the new Census data has been delayed until September. At that time our state representatives will begin redrawing the voting districts.

In 2014, the League of Women Voters of Indiana and Common Cause Indiana co-founded the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting. The coalition has 25 organizations working and advocating for a fair and bipartisan redistricting process that ends political party conflict of interest. The mission of the coalition is to spread the word about how important redistricting is and provide opportunities for Hoosiers across the state to be fully engaged in the process. It advocates for a fair remapping process – not “gerrymandered” maps that can result in an elected official’s base extending across multiple counties and skirting around specific areas of population to lock in political power.

Redistricting has always been a politically sensitive issue, but is even more so in today’s extreme hyper partisan climate. Which is all the more reason redistricting must be accomplished with a team of nonpartisan individuals.

To attend the online Town Hall via Zoom, copy and paste this web address into your browser: https://tinyurl.com/3u4woaja or email LWVLaporte@gmail.com and a Zoom invite will be emailed to you.

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