Fair Districts = Fair Elections: It’s time to change the Ohio Constitution

Written by Professor Emeritus Richard Gunther on August 4, 2015

In 2012, a complaint was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the current state legislative maps partly on grounds of unfairness in representation of the two major parties.  The Court rejected this complaint, arguing that:

“The Ohio Constitution does not mandate political neutrality in the reapportionment of House and Senate districts.”

“Unlike Ohio, some states specify in either constitutional or statutory language that no apportionment plan shall be drawn with the intent of favoring or disfavoring a political party…. Therefore, the Ohio constitution does not mandate political neutrality in the apportionment of house and senate districts.”

It’s time to change the Ohio Constitution and require fairness and prevent partisan biasIssue 1 will be on this November’s ballot and does just that.

Voting “yes” on Issue 1

  • Establishes a bipartisan commission responsible for creating state legislative district lines.
  • Requires that "No General Assembly district plan shall be drawn primarily to favor or disfavor a political party."
  • Reinforces this by requiring that the overall allocation of seats “correspond closely to the statewide political preferences of the voters of Ohio” and defines the statewide political preferences of the voters of Ohio as measured by the average of votes cast for the major parties’ candidates over the previous decade.

Voting “yes” on Issue 1

  • Will keep communities whole by strictly minimizing the number of splits of counties, municipalities and contiguous townships, with priority given first to large counties, then smaller counties, then municipalities, and then contiguous townships.
  • Requires that map-making be transparent: the Redistricting Commission must hold public meetings to explain how the plan conforms to the statewide preferences of the voters and does not unfairly favor a particular political party.  It must also explain why it was necessary to split a county, municipality or township in a manner that deviates from the community-protection criteria.

Fair districts lead to fair elections. One party should never have the ability to rig districts.   We the people deserve fair elections. Our vote for state legislature shouldn’t be manipulated in backrooms.  It’s time to institute good rules. The time is now.

Join a bipartisan coalition including AAUW of Ohio, ACLU of Ohio, America Votes, Buckeye Forest Council, Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland Partnership, Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio, Common Cause Ohio, Democratic Voices, Fair Elections Legal Network, Faith in Public Life, Food and Water Watch, League of Women Voters of Ohio, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Nuns on the Bus, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, Ohio Education Association, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Ohio Republican Party, Ohio Voter Rights Coalition, Ohio State Bar Association, Ohio Student Association, Ohio Voice, ProgressOhio and United Auto Workers Region 2B and vote yes on Issue 1 on November 3.

Richard Gunther is professor emeritus in political science at The Ohio State University and has been advocating for redistricting reform in Ohio for more than ten years.   

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Voting and Elections

Tags: Redistricting

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