State Representative Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) urges Hoosiers to get involved in the redistricting process and calls on them to demand additional hearings when the proposed maps are released by the Republican leadership.
Smith is currently a member of the Lake County Redistricting Commission. The legislator is greatly disappointed that the public hearings set for this weekend do not include Lake County residents.
“Though there is no public hearing set in Lake County – a major oversight by my colleagues across the aisle – I would still like to encourage folks to attend their near- est public hearings and ask questions,” Smith said. “However, these meetings are only the first step in including Hoosiers in the redistricting process. House Democrats have demanded that Republican leadership set additional meetings once the proposed maps are available so we can continue an open dialogue with our constituents.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important redistricting is to the integrity of our election process. Without fair maps, elections are less competitive, cities are often split into separate districts and Republican gerrymandering continues to thrive.”
Gerrymandering occurs when those drawing the maps, in Indiana’s case, Republican legislators, manipulate congressional or legislative district maps in a way that gives them disproportionate power as a result.
“It’s important to note that gerrymandering in Indiana is worse than 95% of the U.S.,” Smith added. “This irresponsible behavior will only worsen if we do not take action now and make our voices heard. Because Democrats are in a super-minority, we, unfortunately, cannot stand up against these actions alone. We need Hoosiers demanding more from Republicans in the General Assembly and we need them to do it now.
“With enough pressure from Lake County residents and Hoosiers across the state, we can send a message to Statehouse Republicans that we are not satisfied with the process as it stands.
“When maps are fair and the process is transparent, we can elect representatives that truly reflect the values of the Hoosiers in their district.”