Gerrymandering 101

“That makes no sense!”

“Your district looks like it has bunny ears!”

Funny enough, these are actual quotes I have heard when I show people my district.  It is only after I explain to them how district lines are drawn that they begin to understand the reason for the bunny ears!

I tell them that every 10 years the government completes a census, which counts all the people in the country.  Then the following year, the State Legislature redraws legislative districts while taking into account the census information.

Sounds fair, right?!  Well, when one party controls a majority of the State Legislature, the districts drawn tend to favor that party.  This is called GERRYMANDERING!

What is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering refers to the drawing of political boundaries to favor one party or faction over another.  It was first done in Massachusetts in 1812 by Elbridge Gerry (hence the name).

How is Gerrymandering done?

The two primary techniques used to accomplish gerrymandering are packing and cracking.

(see diagram below)

Packing is concentrating the opposing party’s voting power in one district to reduce their voting power in other districts.

Cracking is spreading the voting power of the opposing party’s supporters across many districts.

Why is Gerrymandering bad?

Many experts attribute gerrymandering to the extreme polarization of our political parties today, because it limits the power of the moderate voters in each district.

It can also lead people to believe their votes don’t matter!  For example, the 2016 election results show that Indiana is not nearly as “red” of a state as the makeup of the legislature would lead you to believe.

In the 2016 election, Donald Trump won Indiana 57% to 43%, and Senator Todd Young won 51% to 49%. However, the Indiana House is 70% Republican and 30% Democrat, and the Indiana Senate is 80% Republican and 20% Democrat.

Based on the results of the 2016 election, one could expect the Indiana House and Senate to have a breakdown more like 50-60% Republican and 40-50% Democrat.

How do we fix Gerrymandering?

Many people, myself included, are in favor of having an independent bipartisan commission draw the district lines, rather than the legislature.. This would help alleviate some of the biases that go into district making and hopefully lead to more fair and representative districts.

If you would like to learn more, please feel free to reach out to me at harlanforhouse@gmail.com. 

Campaign Announcement

Democrat Harlan Vondersaar Announces Run for Indiana State House District 28

First Time Candidate Looks to End 20 Year Republican Incumbency

Whitestown, Ind. — Democrat Harlan Vondersaar, attorney and Hendricks County native, announced today that he will be a candidate for Indiana House of Representatives District 28.

“I am running because we need more young voices in our Statehouse that are invested in the community and are willing to challenge the status quo to ensure that all Hoosiers are heard and represented,” Vondersaar said. “There are decisions being made that will have a direct and lasting impact on all our lives, and we need to make sure we have a voice in the process.”

Vondersaar believes in a strong public education system, protecting the environment for future generations, and equal opportunities for all. “Regardless of where we are born or the circumstances we are born into, all of us should have access to the tools and resources necessary to achieve the life we dream of,” Vondersaar said.

Harlan was born and raised in Hendricks County, where he graduated from Avon High School. He received his bachelor’s in communications from Indiana University, MBA from Butler University, and JD from Ohio Northern University. He currently lives in the Walker Farm subdivision of Whitestown, and during his free time you can find him at the Golf Club of Indiana or with his family and friends.

For more information, visit www.harlanforhouse.com.