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Supreme Court Decision On Redistricting Commissions Could Affect Indiana

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Chris Phan
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/functoruser/

Just as Indiana begins a long-debated study of redistricting reform, the U.S. Supreme Court may throw a wrench into the process.

The high court will decide this month whether Arizona‘s redistricting commission is unconstitutional.

The case affects only congressional districts, but Common Cause Indiana‘s Julia Vaughn says a ruling striking down commissions would likely torpedo the chance of a creating a similar panel to draw Indiana’s state legislative districts.

Vaughn argues having legislators draw their own districts is, in her words, "the ultimate conflict of interest," and drives down voter turnout by minimizing the number of competitive seats.

She says even if the court rules such outside commissions unconstitutional, Common Cause attorneys believe Indiana could still follow the example of Iowa, which assigns redistricting to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

Because the agency is an arm of the legislature, Vaughn says it should pass constitutional muster.

She says 80 people have signed up for a Saturday seminar organized by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters to explain redistricting law before the start of Indiana‘s hearings.

"We've seen study committees over the years, and sometimes they're helpful and sometimes they're not," says Vaughn. "Certainly the ones that I've seen helpful have had steady citizen participation."

Vaughn is hoping legislative leaders will accept attendance at the seminar as adequate training to qualify people for four citizen seats on the study committee.

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