WYSO

Ohio's Redistricting Reform Proposal Gains Supporters

Aug 13, 2015

State House districts in Ohio.
Credit Ohio Secretary of State

More groups are jumping on the redistricting reform bandwagon, in advance of a vote this fall on a plan to create a bipartisan commission to draw state lawmakers’ districts.

Supporters of the redistricting plan now include the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, which says it’s an “accountable approach” for “effective reform and fair districts”. And the liberal group Nuns on the Bus says it’s joined up too.

Sister Carren Herring in Cincinnati says too many people on the margins are disenfranchised by a gerrymandered map that favors people with power and influence. 

“All people need to be feel that their vote counts. And this Issue 1 isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what we have,” she said.

Issue 1 includes the creation of a seven-person bipartisan commission with at least two members of the minority party. The panel will include the governor, state auditor, secretary of state. The Ohio Senate president, speaker of the Ohio House and the minority leaders in both the Ohio Senate and House will each appoint one person.

As part of the proposed changes, there is explicit prohibition against drawing districts meant to favor one political party. The districts will also be required to reflect how voters actually voted.

The measure also says if the commission approves a map without at least two votes from the minority party, the district lines will only be in effect for four years rather than the usual 10. This requirement is meant to provide an incentive for bipartisan support.  

The Ohio State Bar Association had opposing a redistricting plan in 2012 that would have required judges to select members of a map-drawing commission, but is backing this one since judges would play no role.