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Indiana Secretary State of Todd Rokita has been campaigning to have "more sensible criteria" be used to redraw the state's political districts following the 2010 census.
We agree that the traditional practice of gerrymandering has resulted in some oddly shaped legislative districts in which inhabitants of the northern end may have little or nothing in common with those from the southern end.
But we would prefer that Gov. Mitch Daniels undertake this campaign. The Indiana Constitution authorizes the houses of the state legislature to draw their own districting, but the governor can also recommend in his annual address to the General Assembly that it use more sensible criteria for redistricting.
The secretary of state has been given no role in the matter — his job is simply to enforce the election laws that are in effect.
Of course Rokita may express his opinion on the matter, just as any other citizen may. That he has been going around the state doing so at public forums, though, indicates he is probably planning to run for governor in 2012.
Again there is nothing wrong with that. Evan Bayh also maintained a fairly high public profile while he was Indiana's secretary of state because he was planning on running for governor.
But if Rokita does have designs on the governor's office, Hoosiers should be aware of his other actions regarding election laws that indicate he does not have the proper respect for the system of checks and balances prescribed in the state constitution — and indeed in nearly every effective democracy's constitution.
We are referring to his stand on Indiana's voter photo identification law enacted in 2005. The law did not apply to most who vote by absentee ballot. Debra Weatherholt, Perry County Clerk at the time, told the News, "Most cases of voter fraud have been in absentee balloting."
Thus we wrote in an editorial Nov. 7, 2005, "So the law is probably unconstitutional and does little or nothing to serve the purpose for which it was enacted."
Two months ago the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with our assessment of the law, saying, "... we conclude that the Voter ID law violates Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 23, and must be declared void because it regulates voters in a manner that is not uniform and impartial."
Rokita and Daniels disagreed with the ruling and Daniels promised an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court, which is his right.
We don't feel Rokita was right, however, in issuing a statement responding to the appeals-court ruling, saying the Indiana League of Women Voters were practicing irresponsible "gamesmanship" in challenging the law.
Rokita is paid to work for us and to uphold our system of government. Perhaps he needs to re-read the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees each citizen, among other things, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Our system of government was established with checks and balances built in to ensure, among other things, the executive branch where he's employed doesn't abuse its authority.
His issuing a statement calling the Indiana League of Women Voters and the Indiana Appeals Court "irresponsible" is an arrogant abuse of his authority. It shows how little respect Rokita has for the judicial branch of government. Hoosier voters would do well to remember that if Rokita does run for governor.
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