Advancing redistricing bill brings transparency

Preventing the practice of gerrymandering from occurring when legislative and congressional districts are drawn every 10 years in Indiana is a worthy goal.

The best way for the state to reach that goal is for an independent commission to be charged with creating the districts after every U.S. census.

That may be unattainable, at least for now. Many in the Republican supermajority in the Indiana General Assembly won’t acknowledge the practice of gerrymandering — which is defined as manipulating political boundaries to give a party an advantage — even exists when district maps are drawn.

Still, there might be an opportunity for some progress to be made toward promoting accountability and making the process more transparent.

According to The Indianapolis Star, a bill sponsored by Republican state Sen. Greg Walker of Columbus would allow lawmakers to continue drawing the state’s legislative and congressional district maps for the foreseeable future. But it would require them to create geographically compact districts and avoid dividing places like cities or school districts. Lawmakers would also be banned from considering where incumbents live and would be required to provide reasons behind any deviations.

The bill passed the Senate and will now be taken up by the House.

The bill has managed to gain support from a cross-section of lawmakers, even though some are not satisfied.

Government transparency advocates have been pushing to have an independent commission take charge of the process so the political party in power can’t game the system to its advantage.

But you can’t always get everything you want in the legislative process, especially when there is strong resistance. This bill at least allows for incremental progress.

Julia Vaughn, policy director for the political watchdog group Common Cause, summed up the situation best.

“It’s better than nothing,” she told the Star.

Indeed it is.