Republicans push redistricting plan through Indiana House after ignoring objections

Indiana House members voted 67-31 largely on party lines to endorse the redistricting plan, sending it to the state Senate for possible final approval next week.

Posted: Sep 23, 2021 2:30 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2021 5:12 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Republicans forced their redistricting plan for congressional and legislative seats through the Indiana House on Thursday, casting aside objections that the new maps lock in an excessive partisan advantage for the GOP for another decade.

House members voted 67-31 largely on party lines to endorse the plan, sending it to the state Senate for expected final approval next week.

The new districts would take effect next year and be in place through the 2030 elections.

Political analysts say the new maps protect Republicans’ dominance that has given them a 7-2 majority of Indiana’s U.S. House seats and commanding majorities in the state Legislature, exceeding their typical 56% of the statewide vote.

Republicans maintain they’ve followed all federal and state laws for the once-a-decade redrawing of election districts to match population changes recorded by the census while avoiding splitting counties and cities between multiple districts as much as possible.

Democrats argued the Republicans were using gerrymandering — drawing districts to favor a particular party — to cement supermajorities in the Legislature, giving them “absolute power.”

The state Senate now has a 39-11 Republican supermajority, which with the 71-29 GOP House control, allows Republicans in both chambers to approve proposals without any Democrats being present.

Democrats pointed to the new congressional map that shifts the northern tier of Democratic-leaning Indianapolis from the 5th District that Republican Rep. Victora Spartz narrowly won last year and giving it more GOP-friendly rural areas north of the city.

That move was made after the district had trended over the past decade from a Republican stronghold to the most politically competitive in the state.

“The decision was made, ‘Well we’ve got to stamp that out. We can’t have that happening,’” said Democratic Rep. Matt Pierce of Bloomington.

Republican House elections committee Chairman Tim Wesco of Osceola said many of those who testified at public hearings emphasized their desire for districts that limited the splitting up of cities and counties.

Wesco credited the leader of the House Republican redistricting work, Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon, for making “maps as compact and, I dare say, as beautiful as possible.”

“The truth is people don’t want districts that look like salamanders,” Wesco said.

Republicans on Wednesday rejected a proposal from Democrats to use a map for the 100 state House districts that was submitted by a resident to the unofficial Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission organized by voting-rights groups.

Democrats said that map would better reflect the state’s political leanings by resulting in an expected 59-41 Republican majority.

Democrats spoke against the fast-track approval of the Republican redistricting plan, which could be completed on Oct. 1.

That would be 17 days after the first of the proposed maps were released to the public and make Indiana one of the first states to complete redistricting work.

“We need to reconsider this rushed timeline and take your maps out around the state for public review,” said Democratic Rep. Vernon Smith of Gary. “Instead of only considering your plan, one plan drawn behind closed doors by one party, give proper consideration to the maps the citizens redistricting commission and others have proposed.”

Republicans have used the full legislative supermajorities they’ve held since the 2012 elections to advance issues such as expanding state funding of vouchers for students attending private schools, toughening anti-abortion laws and approving a contentious religious objections law in 2015.

The Republican plan for new state Senate districts was just released Tuesday, with analysts projecting it would give the GOP at least its current 39-11 majority.

The Senate elections committee will hold a public hearing Monday.

Pierce called the proposed Senate map the “king of the gerrymander.”

“How much is enough?” Pierce said. “You get the sense that they have this feeling there’s a birthright that the minority party in the Senate should never have more than single digits for seats.”

Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) issued the following statement on the passing of the new house maps he says are gerrymandered.

"Today's redistricting plan will manipulate the next 10 years of elections to favor Republicans," GiaQuinta said. "Countless Hoosier voters' public testimony has been ignored, and their votes diluted. House Democrats sponsored an alternative proposal selected by an independent redistricting commission to restore integrity in this process, but were defeated by the vote of an artificial supermajority seeking to maintain their power. Ultimately, this will result in worse public policy outcomes for Hoosiers. We will continue the fight for greater transparency and fairness in Indiana's elections."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1097128

Reported Deaths: 17438
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1437882222
Lake712531225
Allen65537867
Hamilton50147482
St. Joseph48760639
Elkhart39461538
Vanderburgh34221495
Tippecanoe30237271
Johnson27179463
Hendricks25845379
Porter25014381
Madison20656444
Clark19898275
Vigo18764308
LaPorte16857260
Delaware16425291
Howard16408311
Monroe16379217
Kosciusko13936163
Hancock12841185
Bartholomew12686188
Warrick11995189
Wayne11879265
Floyd11869225
Grant11701235
Morgan10252188
Boone9675120
Noble9069121
Henry9002165
Marshall8907146
Dearborn881799
Dubois8710139
Shelby8054128
Cass8014127
Lawrence7922182
DeKalb7591106
Huntington7448108
Jackson743893
Gibson7002118
Montgomery6910123
Harrison685296
Knox6827113
Steuben654186
Miami6477107
Whitley642260
Putnam631982
Clinton618976
Wabash6060108
Jasper601791
Jefferson5689103
Ripley549192
Adams532381
Daviess5003116
Scott480378
Wells471799
White468767
Greene461799
Clay457462
Decatur4529109
Jennings439666
Fayette435694
LaGrange419290
Posey403244
Washington384154
Randolph3818107
Fountain368362
Spencer355846
Fulton355572
Starke348772
Owen346276
Sullivan344954
Orange324470
Jay318650
Rush298332
Carroll289438
Franklin286744
Perry283253
Vermillion280458
Tipton247365
Parke246330
Pike244144
Blackford218044
Pulaski205658
Newton179052
Brown171850
Crawford167929
Benton163217
Martin150819
Switzerland145112
Warren132216
Union117816
Ohio91413
Unassigned0585

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1683472

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1766331826
Cuyahoga1641462636
Hamilton1122641528
Montgomery794721387
Summit702171199
Lucas618431017
Butler55878803
Stark525841170
Lorain41058639
Warren35404412
Mahoning35095769
Lake31445493
Clermont30711362
Delaware26682182
Trumbull26664611
Licking26200335
Medina25291351
Fairfield24173287
Greene24051369
Clark21653387
Portage20709280
Richland20587336
Wood19626246
Allen18542320
Miami17031348
Columbiana16502331
Muskingum16416206
Wayne15432304
Tuscarawas14086357
Marion13054194
Erie12423198
Ashtabula12314225
Scioto12235182
Pickaway12070151
Ross11487223
Hancock11256173
Geauga10666174
Lawrence10504171
Belmont10259231
Huron9588155
Jefferson9462225
Union939175
Sandusky9068166
Seneca8692156
Knox8618169
Washington8613156
Athens827396
Darke8270179
Ashland7840147
Auglaize7741115
Shelby7337132
Defiance7210114
Crawford7082150
Brown7052115
Fulton7016111
Logan6857108
Mercer681697
Guernsey680283
Highland6615117
Madison641389
Clinton6388106
Williams628798
Preble6171139
Putnam6089120
Jackson572396
Champaign568286
Perry558879
Coshocton5552103
Ottawa553599
Morrow506464
Fayette483170
Hardin477899
Gallia462978
Pike459076
Van Wert454691
Adams4514109
Henry424976
Hocking401493
Holmes3939137
Wyandot367973
Carroll351578
Paulding319349
Meigs302457
Monroe231860
Noble216447
Morgan210138
Harrison205152
Vinton183937
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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The warming trend is expected to continue through Thursday before cooler air returns to the Midwest.
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