The Columbus Dispatch — A trio of nonprofits filed an initial batch of 1,000 signatures Monday to kick-off an effort to place congressional redistricting reform on the November 2017 or 2018 ballot.
The proposed ballot issue would closely follow a legislative redistricting proposal that voters overwhelmingly supported in 2015. The goal is to dampen the political gerrymandering that allows the political party in control to draw districts to its benefit, creating few competitive seats and securing the party’s majority status.
“This is a critical effort to ensure fair districts and fair elections for every congressional seat in Ohio,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “When members of Congress have safe seats drawn to guarantee which party wins, the real losers are the voters.”
Republicans have held 12 of Ohio’s 16 congressional seats since they drew the district lines in 2011. The lines will be drawn again in 2021, after the next Census.
As part of the Fair Districts Ohio coalition, Common Cause Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Council joined the League in filing the signatures. Within 10 days, Attorney General Mike DeWine will determine if the summary language is fair and truthful. If it checks out, it goes to the Ohio Ballot Board, which will decide if it is a single issue, and then the group begins collecting more than 300,000 valid signatures of Ohio registered voters.
When lawmakers approved placing legislative redistricting reform on the ballot in 2015, they specifically declined to change the process for congressional districts, which are drawn by the legislature in a bill signed by the governor.
House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, R-Clarksville, has said he is working on a congressional redistricting plan, and a bill was introduced in the Senate that would require a two-thirds vote from each legislative chamber to approve a new map. The Senate proposal, like one last session, has seen little action. Gov. John Kasich proposed including a redistricting proposal in the state budget, but relented when legislative leaders ask to consider the issue separately.