help_outline Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List

News / Articles

Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission Guide to Redistricting and the Public Hearing Process

Published on 3/12/2021

Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission Guide to Redistricting and the Public Hearing Process

What is redistricting?

Every ten years, the census count gives us a snapshot of how many people there are in the United States and where they live.  

Once we know how many people live in Indiana we redistrict.  That is, we draw new district lines that put the same number of people into each electoral district.  One person, one vote.     

Why is redistricting important?

One of the greatest powers that you have is the right to elect your own representatives to conduct the business of your government.  How the district boundaries are drawn can make the difference between empowering and maximizing the voters’ voices or minimizing and muting those voices.  The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission is committed to fostering a redistricting process that reflects the best interests of the people, not the incumbent politicians.  

Speaking up about your community is critical to ensuring that district lines are drawn to keep your community whole and grouped with nearby communities with similar interests.  This ensures that your voice is heard by your elected leaders in such decisions as the quality of your child’s school or how high your taxes are.     

What is the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC)?

The ICRC is a demonstration project sponsored by the All IN for Democracy coalition, which has been working for several years to pass legislation to reform the redistricting process in Indiana.  Since the Indiana General Assembly didn’t pass reform before new maps will be drawn this year, the coalition created the ICRC to demonstrate how redistricting should be done:  by a multi-partisan and diverse group of voters with no direct interest in the outcome of redistricting.  The ICRC consists of nine Hoosiers:  three Republicans, three Democrats and three who are neither Republican nor Democrat.  They were chosen by the member groups of the coalition after a public search that yielded almost three hundred candidates.  They will be advised by a team of technical experts and a team of legal experts.    

The ICRC will sponsor virtual public meetings around the state to hear what redistricting criteria Hoosiers want to see followed when new districts are drawn.  The ICRC is also  interested in hearing from Hoosiers about the important communities of interest in their region and how they should be treated for purposes of redistricting.  Information from these meetings will be compiled into a report that is given to the General Assembly before they begin redistricting later this year.  

The ICRC will also sponsor a mapping competition to generate voter-centered districts.  The winning submission will win a cash prize and their maps will be compared with the maps proposed by the legislature.  We expect this process to demonstrate that a diverse group of citizens with no conflict of interests can direct a redistricting process that results in districts that are better for voters and communities than the maps drawn by self-interested legislators. 

For more information go to

How will the ICRC decide where the lines should be drawn?

All maps must comply with the US Constitution, including its equal population requirement.  For Congressional Districts, this means that each district must be of equal population as nearly as is practicable.  For state legislative districts this means that districts must be reasonably equal in population except where the deviation is required to comply with the Voting RIghts Act.

Federal and state law requires that all districts comply with the Voting Rights Act.  

State law requires that all districts be contiguous.  This means that a district should be connected at all points.    

The ICRC will take other mapping criteria into consideration and wants to hear from Hoosiers what public interest standards should be prioritized.  These standards can include:

*Not considering an incumbent’s home address when drawing districts.  This is referred to as drawing districts “incumbent blind”.  

*Respect communities of interest where possible. 

*Keep counties, cities, townships, towns and other units of government intact where possible.

*Draw districts to be politically competitive.  This criteria should be applied when it does not conflict with preceding criteria.  

*Draw districts to be geographically compact where practicable, such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant population.  This rule should be applied where it does not conflict with preceding criteria.          


The ICRC believes that districts should not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate or political party.

What is the Voting Right Act and why is it important?

The Voting RIghts Act (VRA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in voting.  It prohibits voting practices or procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or protected language minority status.  Language minority groups protected by the VRA are Asian, Alaska Native American and Spanish heritage groups.  The VRA prohibits redistricting plans that result in members of a race or protected language minority group having less opportunity to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice.  

For more information go to   

What is a Community of Interest (COI)?

A community of interest is a population which shares common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.   

Examples of such shared interests are those common to an urban area, a rural area, an industrial area, or an agricultural area and those common to areas where people share similar living standards, use the same transportation facilities, have similar work opportunities, or have access to the same media relevant to the election process.  

While the ICRC has a broad definition of communities of interest it does not include relationships with a political party, incumbent elected official or candidate.  

The Commission Needs Your Help Identifying Communities of Interest

Although members of the ICRC come from a variety of places across Indiana they don’t know about all the communities of interest in the state.  They need to hear from you where your community is located and why it is important to keep it together.  With this information the ICRC will be able to encourage the drawing of maps that are focused on protecting communities, not political interests.  

How do you talk about your community?  The ICRC is interested in knowing three key things.

  1.  The economic and social interests that bind your community together.

  2. Why your community should be kept together for fair and effective representation.

  3. Where your community is located

*Common social and economic interests:

Common social and economic interests can vary from community to community so it is up to you to tell the Commision what they are.  They could include common culture or history, common use of a particular park or recreational facilities, or a common goal or aspiration, such as reducing crime or bringing in more jobs and development.     

*Why your community should be kept together:

Describe why your community should be kept together in a district, which can also include why it would be harmful for your community to be split up into different districts.  For example, if your community has been organizing to address an environmental or public safety issue you might highlight how those efforts would benefit from being represented by one representative rather than having to work with two (or more) representatives if the community is split.  

*Where your community is located:

In order for the ICRC to take your community into account you must tell it where your community is located.  You should tell the ICRC where it is located (county and/or city) and also describe its borders.  You can do this by describing physical barriers like streets, rivers or shopping malls and also by describing legal barriers like township lines.   

It is helpful to provide the Commission with a map of where your  community is located, including any landmarks or locations that are important to your community.  Google Maps or DistrictR can be used for this purpose.  You can find the DistrictR mapping software at Indiana | Districtr

When thinking about your testimony to the Commission it might be helpful to imagine how you would describe your community to a visitor from out of town.  You might talk about the kind of people who live in your community, important issues, community centers and your communitys’ history. 


I live in a unique area of Everytown called Oak Knoll Valley.   It is represented by a neighborhood association registered with the city of Everytown.  The neighborhood is bordered by Highway 9 on the west and the Sunnyside River on the east.  There are approximately 3000 residents in Oak Knoll Valley and it is primarily a residential area with some areas zoned for commercial and mixed use, especially along the river.  

We are a racially diverse community that is majority white but we also have large numbers of Black and LatinX residents.  While most residents travel outside the neighborhood for shopping and  employment, they tend to stay in the neighborhood for socializing, religious activities and recreation.  The Oak Valley Community Center provides a variety of activities and is a real hub of the community.  

Across the river from Oak Knoll Valley is the community of RIver Glen which is similar to our community as it is primarily residential.  We are in the same school district and the high school that Oak Knoll students attend is in River Glen.  It would make sense that we would be included in the same legislative or Congressional district.  

On the other side of Highway 9 is Gold City, which is primarily an industrial and commercial area.  Most of the residents live in multi-family apartment buildings and tend to move around a lot, so many people who live there aren’t longtime residents.  Gold CIty is part of another school district than Oak Knoll.  While Gold City is in close proximity to Oak Knoll we have less in common than we do with River Glen.  

Do I Have to Attend a Public Hearing to Give Testimony?

No, you can also submit testimony via email.  Send to  

You can also submit written testimony via mail.  Send to Common Cause Indiana at P.O. Box 1603, Indianapolis, IN 46206      

Are There Other Ways To Influence the New Districts?

Yes, the ICRC will hold a competition to select new district maps that will serve the needs of communities and voters and those maps will be used as models to compare the maps proposed by legislators.  The census data needed to draw new districts will not be available until the fall of 2021, so stay tuned for more news about the mapping competition.  The ICRC will begin holding training sessions to teach people how to use the mapping software later this spring.