‘Out of balance’

Vaughn to bring gerrymandering to USI

Julia Vaughn said election rigging is real and it is called gerrymandering.

Vaughn will visit the university Oct. 19 to discuss the redistricting issue as part of the MPA Speaker Series.

Her event will start with a screening of Gerrymandering, a film which she said is a great educational tool.

“I think a lot of people are familiar with the term gerrymandering, but they don’t know the real impact,” Vaughn said. “It does a good job of explaining that, it’s also an inspirational story. It’s all about partisan political interest.”

Vaughn is currently the policy director for Common Cause Indiana where she began work in 1995.

Common Cause Indiana is a grassroots organization which aims to create open, honest and accountable government. It works as a nonpartisan system focused on the public interest.

Vaughn said she will discuss the idea of creating an independent citizens group who is in charge of redistricting as opposed to a governmental group.

“In Indiana we have very few districts where voters really have an impact,” she said. “Who is going to win was determined back in 2011 when the maps we are currently using were drawn.”

Vaughn said the low voter turnout in 2014 could be attributed to that factor. In 2014 Indiana had the lowest voter turnout with 28 percent of registered voters going to the polls.

“If your vote doesn’t really matter, then there is good reason for voters to stay home,” Vaughn said. “(Gerrymandering) has a lot to do with voter turnout and participation. It also has a lot to do with the issues picked up.”

Vaughn said the legislature is “out of balance with the voters in this state” and it shows by being more conservative than people in Indiana really are.

“Hoosiers are kind of right in the middle,” she said. “We’re moderate.”

Vaughn said the good news is there are people in the process who recognize that there are things off balance and there has been some look into states which don’t allow legislature to redraw the districts on the map.

Vaughn said she thinks it’s important for students to know about gerrymandering and the issues surrounding it because young voters have been traditionally the least participatory in elections.

“Sure it’s complicated, but gerrymandering is at the root of this process,” Vaughn said. “…You can’t just sit on the sidelines.”