By DOROTHY SCHNEIDER
Journal and Courier
When the subject of redistricting reform comes up, Jeris Eikenberry notices people usually start to laugh.
“It’s gotten to be that everyone thinks the people doing it are just doing it for themselves and that’s how it’s going to be,” Eikenberry said. But the West Lafayette resident is optimistic that some real reform can be done when Indiana politicians redraw political boundaries next year. The General assembly is tasked with redistricting, using new U.S. Census data, in 2011.
Rokita outlined the priorities he believes should guide the redistricting process, and encouraged residents to contact their lawmakers and voice an
opinion in the process. “The elected leaders of this state are picking us. We’re not picking them,” Rokita said, referring to the current districts drawn in a way to favor certain political parties and even current politicians in some parts of the state. Rokita said the following considerations should be considered in the redistricting process:
• Keeping communities of interest together, which he pointed out is not necessarily done in the Congressional 4th District, where he’s the
Republican candidate. He said residents in the northern end by Monticello shouldn’t have to share a congressman with those living south of
Indianapolis in Bedford, which is on the southern end of the district.
• Create more compact districts.
• Follow existing boundary lines, such as county or township borders to reduce voter confusion about who represents them.
• Deter the use of political data, such as primary voting records of residents, when drawing district lines.
David Sanders, the Democrat running for the 4th District congressional seat, said he’s been talking about gerrymandering concerns for years — including using the phrase about elected officials picking their constituents, instead of the other way around. Sanders said he agrees with most of the points Rokita made Thursday about changes needed in the process, but questions his opponent’s timing. “He’s been in office for eight years,” Sanders said. “This is not something to bring up in the next-to-last year in office. … If you want to seriously address the issue, you can’t do it at the last second.”