“One man, one vote” has prevailed as a core electoral principle since first stated in a 1964 Supreme Court ruling. But the principle doesn't appear to hold for the Indiana General Assembly, some of whose members claim oversized authority in blocking the redistricting reform needed to preserve it.
After a 12-member study committee spent two years crafting a reform recommendation, eight members recommended last fall that congressional and legislative electoral districts be drawn by an independent redistricting commission. Three of the panel members – all current or former Indiana Senate Republicans – voted no. And when the bill carrying the recommendation came before the House elections committee this year, Republican Chairman Milo Smith (R-Columbus) refused to call it for a vote, even though hundreds of people showed up at the Statehouse in support.
Peg Maginn, a member of the League of Women Voters of Fort Wayne and Common Cause Indiana, said the outcome seemed predetermined.
“We were stonewalled,” she said of the February hearing. “We had that place packed. Everyone spoke in favor of the bill, from a self-described housewife to the Indianapolis Chamber. The business community was on board and, supposedly, so was (House Speaker Brian) Bosma. (Smith) let the whole thing go on and then just shut it down.”
The speaker, who co-authored the bill, later told reporters there wasn't enough support in the Senate, so he couldn't justify the House's spending time on it.