Friday, December 17, 2010

Reminder: Redistricting Seminar Today at Statehouse

I wanted to give everyone a reminder about the Common Cause redistricting seminar. I should have done this reminder earlier. See below what I posted a week or so ago. Also the Star has an article on redistricting today that is excellent.


Next Friday, December 17th, Indiana Common Cause will be sponsoring a seminar on gerrymandering entitled "Drawing the Line on Gerrymandering." It's billed as a "luncheon seminar for legislators, lobbyists, attorneys, and advocates." CLE credit for attorneys is available.

The seminar will be held in the Indiana State Senate chambers at the Indiana statehouse. It begins with registration at 10:30 a.m. The program, which starts at 11:00 consists of a panel discussion followed by a question and answer period. It is targeted to wrap up at 1:00 p.m., just in time to return to work.

Radio personality Amos Brown will preside over the seminar. Guest panelists include the Honorable Theodore Boehm, an Indiana Supreme Court justice who recently retired, Dr. Michael McDonald, an associate professor of Government and Politics at George Mason University, and Virginia Martinez, a legislative staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Here is description of the seminar from the brochure for the program.

Every ten years the Indiana General Assembly draws new maps for Congressional and state legislative districts and typically he process is dominated by inside politics and partisan maneuvering. In 2011, the redistricting stakes will be as high as they have ever been since where the district lines fall will have a huge impact on which candidate will be elected and which political party will be int he majority for the next decade. Despite expressing support for an end to gerrymandering in the past, those in control of the map-making process will be under lots of pressure to deliver "safe districts" for their party and their incumbents.

That's where the public comes in. Because of the outstanding work of some computer and political experts, the 2011 round of redistricting will be the most open and transparent ever. Open-source redistricting software has been developed that will allow citizens to have access to the same information legislators will be using to draw the new maps. One of the best ways to shine a light on the process and prevent overt attempts to gerrymander is to allow the public to draw their own maps and compare those independent proposal to the ones offered by the legislature.

Come to the seminar to see a demonstration of how the map-drawing software works by one of its developers. And learn why a former member of the Indiana Supreme Court believes gerrymandering is a serious threat to the legislative and political process in our state. And, hear words of caution form a national expert on the Voting Rights Act regarding the need to balance minority voting protections with the desire for fair and competitive districts.

This seminar is designed to help policymakers, advocates and attorneys learn how to play a meaningful role in the 2011 round of redistricting in Indiana and how to design new maps that protect minority voting rights and promote fairness and competition in Indiana elections.

Please join us on December 17th to start this important discussion in preparation for 2011.

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