Civil Discourse Now

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Gerrymandering effectively nullified the votes of roughly half-a-million Hoosier voters last Tuesday.

   Republicans hold seven of Indiana’s nine seats in the United States House of Representatives.

   The votes cast this past Tuesday would indicate those numbers are not representative of the votes cast, by party.

   According to the numbers issued by the office of the Indiana Secretary of State, 2,473,264 votes were cast in the nine Congressional District races. 1,313,845 votes (53.12%) were cast for Republican candidates. 1,100,327 votes (44.49%) were cast for Democratic candidates. 59,088 votes (2.39%) were cast for Libertarian candidates.

   Hoosier Democratic Party voters would seem to have a right to proportional representation. Yet they only have two seats—22%.   

Indiana might be a "red" State (Gosh—that would have had different connotations 60 years ago), but is the "red" that glaring? Unfortunately, gerrymandering by the 2010 Indiana General Assembly has rigged Congressional district races in this State for the next ten years.

   Article I, §2 of the United States Constitution provides, in relevant part, that "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers ... within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."

   That section created the basis for the United States Census, taken every ten years, as the means by which the number of members each State has in the House of Representatives is determined.

   Elbridge Gerry signed the Declaration of Independence and was a delegate at the Constitutional Convention, the written product of which he refused to sign. In 1812, as Governor of Massachusetts, Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts state senate seats to favor his Democratic-Republican (today’s Democratic) Party.  "When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a salamander." Wikipedia, "Gerrymandering." This was not the first instance of lines drawn to effect an election. As early as 1788 Patrick Henry attempted to prevent James Madison from being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by similar means.

   In Indiana, the Republican-controlled General Assembly sought to draw Congressional District lines in such a manner as to place as many Democratic Party voters in two Congressional Districts—the First (Lake and surrounding counties or "da Region) and the Seventh (primarily Marion County). District lines also were drawn so as to optimize Republican control of both houses of our General Assembly.

   Gerrymandering has been a weapon wielded by both of the "major" parties. It originated with the first Congressional election (Patrick Henry and Madison) and was named because of actions by what is today the Democratic Party. It now is used by the Republicans. Gerrymandering should be available as a tool to neither.

   District lines should be drawn by non-partisan hands. There are various alternatives available. What I find difficult to defend is a system by which one "major" party is able to effectively nullify the votes of many people; in this instance 22%.


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