Citizen cartographers asked to help with redistricting

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Hoosiers are being invited to try their skills at drawing legislative and congressional maps as part of the ongoing push by civic organizations in Indiana to have more public involvement in the redistricting process.

All IN for Democracy, Indiana’s coalition for independent redistricting, has announced the opening of an online portal where state residents can access the 2020 census data and design their own maps. Hoosiers can craft the districts as they see fit, then enter their maps into the statewide competition for a chance to win cash prizes. Winners for the best fair maps will earn $3,000 for state House, $2,000 for state Senate and $1,000 for Congress.

In addition, citizen cartographers will have access to tools to evaluate any maps the Indiana General Assembly proposes.

The Indiana Redistricting Portal, with more information about the contest, is available here. 

All IN for Democracy’s 2021 Redistricting Report is available here. 

“Community created maps put democracy back in the hands of the people,” Julia Vaughn, executive director of Common Cause Indiana, said in a press release. “The mapping competition ensures we have maps produced from a community-focused perspective to offer as an alternative to the partisan-focused maps our legislature will produce. We hope this process shows our elected leaders what redistricting can look like when the people are invited to participate and the goal is fair maps, not incumbent protection.”

Typically the district maps are draw during the legislative session, but the General Assembly had to push the task to the fall because of a delay at the U.S. Census Bureau in collecting and preparing the data. Indiana legislators are using “legacy” data, which was released Aug. 12, to draw the state’s maps.

Earlier this month, state senators and representatives held public meetings in each of the state’s nine congressional districts to hear what the public wants from redistricting. Over and over, attendees told the legislators they want fair maps that have competitive districts, but they fear the Republican supermajority will draw partisan districts that squash dissenting voices.

The winning maps in the competition will be used as the standard by which to judge the maps drawn by the General Assembly. All IN for Democracy plans to urge the Legislature to pass the citizen-drawn maps instead of maps the organization believes will be the partisan-designed maps produced in the Statehouse.

“Our democracy is stronger when every Hoosier — Republican, Democrat, and Independent — can participating in redistricting,” Linda Hanson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana, said in a statement. “This competition is about giving people the tools and information they need to participate in a process that will impact their voting power for the next ten years.”

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