ANDERSON – Proponents of redistricting reform and changes in Indiana’s election laws are not optimistic about success in the General Assembly this year.

Representatives from Common Cause of Indiana and Indiana Votes addressed the One Nation Indivisible Madison County organization on Tuesday at the Anderson Public Library.

Julia Vaughn of Common Cause said the organization has been working on redistricting reform for a number of years and has been joined by 22 other groups. 

“It’s difficult to pass legislation with Republican supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly," she said.

Vaughn said the maps draw in 2011 were different than those created in both 1991 and 2001 because the Democratic Party had a majority in the Indiana House.

She said Republican Mike Braun won the 2018 race for the U.S. Senate seat with 51 percent of the vote. She said Republicans hold 67 percent of the seats in the House and 82 percent in the Senate.

“I agree that Indiana votes Republican,” Vaughn said. “But not 70 or 80 percent Republican. It’s closer to 55 to 45 percent.”

She said both political parties are guilty of gerrymandering legislative districts to favor their candidates in elections.

Common Cause supports the creation of a nine-member citizens committee to draw the legislative maps.

Vaughn said the legislation to create the commission won’t get a hearing in the Senate, but legislation to establish standards has passed its initial vote.

“There is fierce resistance to the legislation to create public interest standards,” she said. “It’s toxic because the Republicans are conducting the public’s business behind closed doors when they caucus.”

Vaughn said if redistricting reform is not adopted by 2021, Common Cause will create a website for Indiana residents to draw maps. 

“Maybe we can shame the Republicans into considering some of the maps drawn by citizens,” she said.

Barbara Tully of Indiana Votes said the group wants Hoosiers to be allowed to vote by mail. She said the legislation will not get a committee hearing.

“We want vote by mail as a choice,” she said. “Let each Indiana county make the decision.”

Tully said other measures, such as extending the hours for voting on Election Day, also did not receive a committee hearing.

She said Indiana Votes also wants to remove the requirement that a voter has to state a reason for voting absentee.

“Our goal is to increase turnout,” Tully said.

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