Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Access to medication is key to HIV prevention, a Florida university uses a religious exemption to disband its faculty union, plus Nevada tribes and conservation leaders praise a new national monument plan.

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The House passed a bill to avert a crippling railroad strike, Hakeem Jefferies is chosen to lead House Democrats, and President Biden promises more federal-Native American engagement at the Tribal Nations Summit.

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The first-ever "trout-safe" certification goes to an Idaho fish farm, the Healthy Housing Initiative helps improve rural communities' livability, and a new database makes it easier for buyers and builders to find available lots.

Redistricting Over, IN Voting Rights Group Looks to the Future

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Monday, December 20, 2021   

Indiana's redistricting process concluded in October, but one voting rights group is eyeing ways to ensure fair representation in the future.

From introduction to final approval, it took Indiana lawmakers less than three weeks to adopt new legislative and congressional maps. Julia Vaughn, policy director with Common Cause Indiana, said that timeline meant few opportunities for the public to weigh in on the process.

She said that Common Cause is pushing the General Assembly to approve a citizen's commission to handle redistricting in the future.

"It's only when we take this job away from very self-interested politicians that we're going to get fair districts," said Vaughn.

In a written statement issued after the maps' approval, Gov. Eric Holcomb said that the process was conducted in "an orderly and transparent way."

Per data collected by Common Cause, in states where politicians are in charge of redistricting, 36% of voting maps are either struck down or re-drawn by the courts due to partisan gridlock. In states with independent commissions, only 11% of voting maps are rejected by the courts.

According to the 2020 Census, Indiana's Black and Hispanic population grew slightly in the past decade, but Democrats in the assembly say the new voting maps dilute the voting power of those communities in favor of rural, predominantly white voters.

Allegations of racial gerrymandering sometimes go to court, but Vaughn said that's unlikely to happen in Indiana.

"Challenging maps on both racial gerrymandering grounds and partisan gerrymandering are very difficult cases to win," said Vaughn.

Kathay Feng, Common Cause's national redistricting director, said in a redistricting seminar earlier this month that the best way to ensure equitable representation is through long-term reforms.

"It is a long-term civic engagement, movement-building effort that we have to engage in to change the way that the district lines are drawn," said Feng.

Redistricting happens after states receive results from the U.S. Census. If they go unchallenged and unaltered, Indiana's maps will remain in place for the next decade.




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