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Plans for September redistricting session draw criticism from voting rights groups

Voting rights activists are criticizing reported plans by Indiana legislative leaders for a September session on redistricting that doesn’t allow for public hearings after the release of proposed congressional and legislative maps.

The Indiana Citizen first reported Thursday that House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray shared the tentative timetable in a closed-door meeting with Democratic leaders and staff. A key part of the plan is the use of early data expected from the U.S. Census Bureau in August, allowing for resumption of the recessed 2021 session in the second half of September. The timetable also includes public hearings in August, before the proposed maps are made public.

Bryce Guftason (above) of the Citizens Action Coaltion criticized the plan as “leaving Hoosiers in the dark on redistricting.

“Our democracy is strongest when we the people can participate and be heard by our government. Drawing and approving new political maps for the next ten years without healthy and robust debate from the public is downright anti-democratic,” Gustafson said in a statement released through Common Cause Indiana.

Common Cause Indiana, the Citizens Action Coalition, the League of Women Voters and other groups have been working together to promote transparency and more public involvement in the decennial redistricting process in Indiana.

“Redistricting is the most important issue facing our state this year, but our government has yet to share how they plan to hold a process that is transparent and accountable to the people,” said Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana. “The voters of Indiana deserve to hear how our legislators are drawing our electoral maps in a public setting — not behind closed doors.”

Added Linda Hanson, co-president of the League of Women Voters Indiana: “Redistricting will affect how we vote, where we vote, and who will be on our ballot for the next decade. Such an important democratic process requires more than a behind closed door meeting. Hoosiers deserve to have a process that is fair, transparent, and accountable to the people.” — The Indiana Citizen