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posted: 6/16/2016 7:00 AM

Indiana minorities don't have proportional representation

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's minorities do not enjoy proportional representation in the Legislature or the state's congressional delegation, according to data compiled by The Associated Press.

For example, Latinos make up almost 7 percent of the state's population, but less than 1 percent of the Legislature. The state's nine-member congressional delegation includes one African-American, but no Latinos.

The AP analyzed the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Congress and the National Conference of State Legislatures to determine the extent to which the nation's thousands of lawmakers match the demographics of its hundreds of millions of residents. The result: Non-Hispanic whites make up a little over 60 percent of the U.S. population, but still hold more than 80 percent of all congressional and state legislative seats.

While U.S. demographic trends suggest the lack of representation won't always be the case, the minorities are currently excluded from positions that help make important public policy decisions, said Marlene Dotson, who's the President and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute.

Here are some things to know about politics and Indiana's demographics:

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MISSING LATINOS

Dotson estimates there are a half-dozen or fewer Latinos in elected public office statewide, a group that includes school board members and city councilmen.

But Latinos are a growing population, and Dotson notes that younger generations are more politically active than their parents and grandparents, who have tended to not be civically engaged. That will ultimately boost the number of Latino officeholders across the state, she predicts.

Rep. Christina Hale, an Indianapolis Democrat, is the only Latina in the statehouse, Dotson said.

This November's election could be a big step: Hale, of Cuban heritage, is the running mate of former House Speaker John Gregg, the Democrat who is challenging Republican Gov. Mike Pence. If elected, she would become lieutenant governor.

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AFRICAN-AMERICANS UNDERREPRESENTED

Blacks make up just over 9 percent of Indiana's population, yet hold 8 percent of the seats in the Legislature and just one of the state's 11 congressional seats, AP data shows. And all of them are Democrats, a party that does not hold the majority in Congress or the Indiana Statehouse.

There are also no blacks currently elected to prominent statewide office. Though that, too, could change after Republicans last week nominated Elkhart County prosecutor Curtis Hill, who is African-American, to be their candidate for attorney general in November's election.

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NATIONAL COMPARISON

Overall, whites are overrepresented in the Indiana Legislature and in the state's congressional delegation. But the state has more balance than the U.S. on average and is much more equally apportioned based on race than many other states, according to the AP data.

Whites are overrepresented by about 21 percent in state Legislatures across the country, the data shows. In Indiana, the General Assembly is 88 percent white, while the state is just 80 percent white. The state's congressional delegation is also more representative of the people in Indiana than Congress is as a whole.

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