As voter advocates who work to make voting easy and convenient in Ohio, the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition strongly urges your support for Redistricting Reform on this November’s ballot. Issue 1 will create fair districts and fair elections for Ohio. This reform will create a transparent and bipartisan process for drawing district lines, and will explicitly forbid drawing districts for political advantage. Citizens will be given more power to challenge maps if election outcomes do not reflect the will of the people.
We regularly hear from community members who don’t vote, and don’t believe that elected officials represent their interests. Sadly, “My vote won’t make a difference” is a familiar refrain. We don’t have to look any further than the election results of 2014 to see that voter enthusiasm and turnout have hit record-low levels. As much importance as we place on voting, we can certainly understand the frustrations of people who choose to sit out of a process that is rigged against voters.
It doesn’t take a magnifying glass to see that Ohio’s district lines are oddly-shaped – contorted to create maximum the number of seats for the party in power. Following the 2010 Census, Republicans controlled the process of redrawing the lines. Republicans gave themselves 12 congressional districts and packed the Democrats into just four districts. Despite Ohio being a swing state, with roughly a 50/50 split of Republicans and Democrats, in the last two elections, Republicans got 75 percent of the congressional seats in Ohio, with just 55 percent of the vote. When Democrats controlled the process for drawing lines, they too manipulated the districts in their favor. This type of gerrymandering produces a number of alarming results: representation that does not reflect the preferences of voters, non-competitive elections, and elected officials who are not accountable to the community that he or she purportedly represents.
This November, voters have a tremendous opportunity to fix this broken system by passing Issue 1. Voting “Yes” on Issue 1 will significantly improve the fairness of our state legislative elections. Under the proposed rules, district lines will be drawn so that communities will be kept together. Issue 1 will stop gerrymandering by prohibiting district lines from being drawn to benefit one party over another. Most importantly, for the first time, the Ohio Constitution will require district maps to fairly reflect the statewide preferences of voters. This November, let’s get politicians out of the business of manipulating state district lines. Please join the Ohio Voter Rights Coalition in voting Yes on Issue 1.
Visit www.yesforissue1.org for more information on redistricting reform in Ohio.
Camille Wimbish is the Election Administration Director for Ohio Voice