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Legislative hearing in Anderson draws calls for transparency, charges of gerrymandering

Lawmakers involved in Indiana’s upcoming redistricting process faced criticism Friday from Hoosiers who demanded more public involvement.  

The first round of public hearings was held in four cities around the state with citizens invited to voice their concerns and thoughts on the redistricting process; a second round will be held Saturday. But many charged that the process amounted to gerrymandering and expressed distrust. 

At the public hearing in Anderson, legislators who attended included Senate Elections Committee chairman Jon Ford (above), R-Terre Haute, Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis,  Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, Rep. Ann Vermilion, R-Marion, Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem and Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus. 

Around 20 citizens came up to the podium to speak, some from advocacy groups and others who said they were concerned citizens, using words such as mistrust, frustration, gerrymandering and disaster to express their thoughts on Indiana’s redistricting process. 

Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both the Indiana House and Senate, have been facing charges of gerrymandering in the 2011 redistricting process, opinions that became apparent during the hearing. 

“Although I’ve lived in several other states during my life, I want one Republican on this committee to explain to me how it is fair for you to pick your voters, and not your voters picking you,” said Kathy Badger from Madison County. 

Some who testified pointed out how gerrymandering affects minority communities and urged a transparent process to assure all voices are heard

Others said they’ve never taken part in politics including Tom Green, who said he has voted in elections but feels like his vote is being ignored. 

“It is time for the politicians to stop choosing their voters and the voters to choose you guys,” Green said. “Do the right thing.”

Carolina Puga Mendoza is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.