Reform

Let’s stop the politicians from going into the backrooms to create districts that benefit themselves!

To ensure that future redistricting is done in a fair and nonpartisan way, we need to amend Ohio’s Constitution — a difficult, but not impossible task. 385,253 signatures from registered voters would place a Constitutional amendment on next November’s ballot. And we are seeing more and more successful petition drives.  Amendments to the Constitution can also be put to a vote of the people by the Ohio General Assembly.  Three fifths of both chambers (House & Senate) need to pass a proposed Constitutional amendment.

A number of our partners are exploring what we would like to see in a proposed Constitutional amendment. Including:

• Creates an Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission consisting of private citizens
• Requires an open and transparent redistricting process which prevents districts from being drawn in backrooms
• Prevents counties, cities, and townships from being unnecessarily split apart into separate districts
• Requires politically balanced districts which do not unnecessarily favor any political party
• Prohibits adopting a plan intended to favor or disfavor a political party, incumbent, or candidate
• Takes politicians out of the redistricting process

Check out the following for more information:

For more information, send an e-mail to jslagle@drawthelinemidwest.org.

Nonpartisan, not bipartisan

Some in the Legislature have recognized that the system needs reformed, although it is highly unlikely that the Legislature will solve this on their own.  Rather, they will endlessly study the issue and never come to agreement.  Those legislators who are pushing reform sent a letter to legislative leadership endorsed a bipartisan reform which would still have politicians drawing the lines, ie – the fox guarding the hen house.  Politicians have a conflict of interest and an incentive to agree to sweetheart deals which favor themselves.  A better reform is to remove the politicians and other political insiders from the process, by having lines drawn by an independent nonpartisan citizens commission.  For more info, see below.

8 Responses

  1. I agree with the basic concept of this proposal, but I disagree with a few things in it. I don’t think that there should be any requirement that the districts be “politically balanced”. I think that a redistricting plan must be required not to unnecessarily split counties, cities, and townships. Citizens should be allowed to submit their plans and out of all plans which meet the requirements, the one which is the most compact should be the one chosen. Political party should not enter into the equation at all. Then there would be no need to create a Commission (something that I am always weary of–its sounds like a good idea, but things that are intended to be “non-partisan” usually quickly become partisan). If there is any question about which plan is the “winning” one, the decision could be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

    • Jim Slagle says:

      We agree that compactness is very important. However, the requirement of compactness is currently in our Constitution. This requirement, has not kept politicians from manipulating districts.

      The purpose of having a citizens commission which does not include politicians or political insiders is to allow a nonpartisan body to make the final decision. We have included many safeguards — such as requiring the Commission to include an equal number of Democrats, Republicans, and those those affiliated with neither party and a requirement of a 2/3rds vote to approve a map.

      If the Commission doesn’t follow the rules, the Ohio Supreme Court is the final arbiter.

  2. sally taylor says:

    I love the response by Matthew Miller. I too wondered how that committee would be chosen and see all kinds of problems there. I also agree about the “politically balanced” not being realistic. Rural areas will likely end up more Republican and cities more Democratic. The key word should be “compact” This also would make things easier for the representative to actually get around the district and see people. Would this effect both districts for state offices and US house? I hope so.

    • Jim Slagle says:

      The proposed constitutional amendment applies to both congressional and state legislative districts.

      The Commission would be required to establish districts based on the following four nonpartisan criteria: 1)compactness; 2)minimize splits of counties and municipalities; 3) maximize the number of politically balanced districts; 4) balancing the number of districts which favor each party.

      In general, districts in rural areas will end up more Republican and districts in urban areas will end up more Democratic. Participants in our redistricting competition were able to establish districts which were both compact and politically balanced.

  3. I had a couple more ideas for this. The rules could also favor keeping districts as close as possible to the previous districting. This would minimize the number of people who are tossed into a new district with a different representative that they don’t know much about. In that case they have to redo all of their research to decide who to vote for. Of course, this rule should not take effect until after the Amendment is applied for the first time so that it doesn’t perpetuate a bad map made under the current system.

    Secondly, although the current constitution requires population equity to some extent, a further rule could favor maps with even more population equity than the existing requirement. This particular rule should only be a tiebreaker to decide between plans which are equally (or nearly equally) compact and which minimally split existing counties, cites, and townships, and also the above requirement.

    Also I still disagree with this competitive argument. To me, even if it is not competitive between Republicans and Democrats, it could still be a competitive district in the sense that the primaries are competitive. Not all Republicans are the same and not all Democrats are the same and there are a lot of people who vote for both or neither (third parties and independents). I think the law should be blind to what party you belong to (for both the voters and the candidates) and should just see you as a person, not as a member of a party. There are enough other requirements in my plan that the politician would not be able to manipulate it to their advantage (unless they broke the law which could happen with any plan).

  4. William Wilson says:

    I would prefer politicians determining the districts with rules that minimizes shifting districts. This should be done with an equal number, say six total, of the major two political parties plus one extra member from the minority party in charge of the group.

  5. And one more thing…There should be a state constitutional requirement that we cannot have two primary dates, which we nearly had until the last plan was adopted. That would have wasted a lot of taxpayer’s money. More time and political effort could have been devoted to adopting a better a map instead of using it to haggle about that dumb issue.

  6. And one more thing…There should be a provision in the state constitution that we cannot have two primary dates, which we nearly had until the last plan was adopted. That would have wasted a lot of taxpayer’s money. More time and political effort could have been devoted to adopting a better a map instead of using it to haggle about that dumb issue.

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