Some people have raised questions about the fairness and process
of redistricting of the Porter County Council districts. The fact is that
the Commissioners were legally bound to redistrict. And, failing to do so
would have been unfair to the people of Porter County, and especially to the
citizens of the Duneland area.
Under the old district lines, District One (Duneland area) had a population
of 43,169 and District Two (Portage area) had a population of 38,925. That
was a difference of over 4,200, or 10.4% between our largest district and
smallest district. The Duneland area District was the most
under-represented, leaving the Duneland citizens with LESS than “one person,
one vote". And, the Portage area District was the most over-represented,
leaving them with MORE than “one person, one vote.” How is that fair?
The US Supreme Court has found that the equal protection clause of the 14th
Amendment embodies a “one person, one vote principle” which requires that a
State make an honest and good faith effort to construct districts which are
as nearly of equal population as practicable. Indiana law states that the
districts must have equal populations as nearly as possible. It is the legal
duty of the Commissioners to assure that the citizens in council districts
have equal representation as nearly as possible. Some have inferred that our
current districts, with a 10.4 percent variance between the largest and
smallest, are “good enough”. Well, under the law, “good enough” is not good
Indiana law says that we must either redistrict, or certify that existing
districts contain equal population, as nearly as possible. With a 10.4%
population variance, the Commissioners cannot ignore the law and recertify
districts that we know are NOT equal in population as nearly as possible.
Our ONLY choice was to redistrict now or leave the county open to a lawsuit.
In compliance with state law, the new districts are equal in population, as
nearly as possible. There is only a 3.19% variance between the population of
the largest and smallest districts, vastly improved from the 10.4%
difference that some said was good enough. Nine of the 12 townships are
undivided between districts. Porter County’s population has grown by over
17,500 since the last redistricting.
Nearly 54% of that growth was in Portage, Center and Westchester townships.
Without dividing those townships, it was impossible to achieve equal
population among the districts, as nearly as possible. As much as possible,
communities of interest were respected. Some have falsely stated that this
was a rushed process. The Commissioners first considered redistricting in
December, 2011. It was delayed at the request of the Democrat director of
Voters Registration. When it was raised again at the January, 2012 meeting,
we were informed that we could not redistrict in an even numbered year. It
was raised again at our October 15th meeting of this year, nearly two months
ago. The district council members have had nearly two years to provide their
Yet, not one of them ever called me to request a meeting to discuss it.
Finally, redistricting does NOT take away anyone’s right to run for office.
It does NOT impede anyone’s right to vote. But it DOES assure, as much as
possible, that the voice of every citizen carries equal weight in selecting
their county council district representative. After all, that is what the US
Constitution and Indiana law requires and our citizens deserve.