Good news: fair redistricting is back! You may recall the 2015 ballot initiative, Issue 1, to change the way state legislative districts are drawn. It passed by a 71- to 29-percent margin. As a result, when Ohio legislative districts are redrawn after the 2020 census, a new, bipartisan commission will draw districts that are compact and do not favor one political party or another.
The good-government groups that brought us Issue 1 encouraged the Ohio Legislature to make similar rules for drawing U.S. congressional districts. Unfortunately, the legislators have not acted, so bipartisan congressional redistricting reform is once again being taken directly to the people.
Under the ballot proposal, the seven-member commission of state lawmakers and elected officials who will draw Statehouse district maps will also draw congressional districts. A map would need the votes of two minority party members for approval. Map-makers could not split a county more than once, and the overall proportion of Republican- and Democrat-leaning districts would have to reflect the party preferences of voters over the previous 10 years.
If you’ve never seen a map of Ohio’s gerrymandered districts, Google “Ohio congressional districts.” You will be surprised by the crazy shapes. More compact districts would make it easier for our representative to meet with constituents, and members of Congress would have to be sensitive to all constituents, not just their most extreme base. Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. This is a nonpartisan principle of fairness.
For this proposal to go before voters, it needs 306,000 signatures. Watch community events for volunteers with clipboards, and please sign the petition to put fair districts on the ballot.
Beth Sutton-Ramspeck, Lima