New Congressional Districts (HB 319)

On Sept. 26, after a race through the Legislature (the House approved the new districts within 48 hours of the maps being released), Governor Kasich signed HB 319 which establishes new congressional districts for the next decade.

The plan creates the most contorted districts ever seen in Ohio and packs Democratic voters into four districts to create solid Republican majorities in the other eight districts.  This is designed to ensure a 12 – 4 Republican congressional advantage for the next decade.

The plan creates 65 county fragments, as compared to 44 under the current map and 9 under our high scoring map in our citizen competition.  7 counties are in three or more districts:  Cuyahoga (4), Summit (4), Portage, Stark, Lucas, Franklin, and Mercer.  One district stretches from Toledo to Cleveland.  Another from Toledo to Springfield.  Others zigzag their way through Ohio.  The new 15th district has a 933 mile district border and you can’t even drive through the whole district!  Only two of the districts are competitive.

We scored the maps like we did the 53 maps submitted during our redistricting competition and guess what we found?  The HB 319 maps scored dead last — far worse than every other map submitted during our competition.

You have to see it to believe it.

Competition maps submitted.

We submitted eight of our competition maps to the Legislature for their consideration. Check them out:

See PowerPoints presented with our legislative testimony:

Competition map introduced in Senate.

On Sept. 19, Sen. Thomas Sawyer introduced SB 225 which proposed that the congressional districts follow one of our competition plans, specifically the plan we previously submitted to the Legislature as OCAR – B, which is a plan drawn by Mike Fortner which provides exactly equal population among all districts down to a single person (more than the law requires).  Unfortunately, while the Senate was hastily approving the new congressional districts, they didn’t even take time to have a hearing on SB 225.

Referendum on new districts

Supreme Court allows referendum to go forward

On Oct. 14, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Legislature could not deny the public our constitutional right to have a referendum on the new congressional districts by adding a $2.75 million dollar appropriation for local boards of elections.  The Supreme Court decision overrules Secretary of State Husted’s action just two days earlier, which rejected an initial petition filing on the referendum.  Click here for the Court’s opinion.

Thus, Ohioans for Fair Districts will have until Dec. 25 to submit sufficient signatures to put a referendum on the November 2012 election ballot, which would give the voters an opportunity to reject the new congressional districts adopted by the Legislature.

Click here for all Ohio Supreme Court filings.

Money and districts!

Why are districts so strangely shaped? In at least one instance, a strange puppet shaped area containing zero population was attached to a district so that a factory belonging to a Congressman’s major campaign contributors would be part of his district — thus enhancing his ability to keep the money flowing. Read more

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