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POLITICAL RADAR: Brien McElhatten talks redistricting reform with Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission member

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- It might be a topic that you gloss over, but how your legislators decide to draw congressional districts can have a big impact when you head to the polls.

Marilyn Moran-Townsend is part of a group hoping to change how those districts are drawn.

Marilyn Moran-Townsend talks to Brien McElhatten about redistricting reform

She is a Republican member of the bipartisan Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. A group looking to push lawmakers to make the process of redistricting more open with input from the voters.

Marilyn explained her frustrations with the current process with Brien McElhatten on ABC21's latest edition of "Political Radar."

"What the United States Constitution does not prohibit is political gerrymandering. Okay, so that happens. And, and there was a huge effort 10 years ago, really across the country to say, How can we get more of our party, particularly in that time in the rehab for the Republican Party across the country, to really control state legislatures, and then whoever controls the legislature gets to be in the position to draw the next maps and the next maps and the next maps really in perpetuity. There was a major republican effort and I'm a republican right. Now, that just really hurts me that that that was done."

Marilyn says Democrats are also guilty of doing this in other parts of the country, but here in Indiana, she says it's being done by her own party.

The two ways partisan gerrymandering is done are through "cracking" and "packing."

Marilyn explained what these two processes mean:

"So let me explain because I don't think everybody always understands. What happens is that if we pack a lot of Democrats, which is what we tend to do in Indiana. We pack a lot of them into one district, and a Democrat is going to get elected from that district for sure," said Moran-Townsend. " All of the extra democrats that got packed into that district, their votes didn't count, because a Democrat was going to be elected anyway. If we have a district that is really strong with Democrats, and we crack it, we put them into two different districts so that the democrats don't win in either district. Then the people in those districts also say my vote didn't count. Either way, packing or cracking means that somebody's vote doesn't count. And there is nothing more fundamental to democracy than our vote counting."

The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission is looking to take the drawing of the maps away from legislators by having everyday people compete by drawing their own maps.

Those maps would then be judged on certain criteria by a bipartisan panel and then presented to the state legislature.

"We will take the winning maps, and we will present them to the legislature. And before they vote on the final maps, we're hoping that they'll use our maps as the maps that they choose to submit to Governor Holcomb, said Moran-Townsend.

"Do you think they'll give you a fair shake on that? Do you think they'll really consider it," asked McElhatten

"Well, I held a breakfast for our Northeast Indiana legislators last week, along with other members of the Commission, and the League of Women Voters. And I really do believe that our legislators are fair-minded and, and here's the thing that particularly heartens me, I believe that even a party and a majority like mine happens to be right now, is made up of individuals who recognize the importance of democracy."

To find out more about the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, click here.

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Ian Hoover

Ian Hoover is the Managing Editor of Fort Wayne’s NBC and ABC21. His focus is managerial oversight of content including working with reporters on elements for their stories and with producers for deeper content in newscasts; long-range planning and content development; editorial meeting oversight; and special projects management.

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