At 4:00 am this morning, the Ohio Senate passed an amended version of HJR12 (28 yeas-1 no), the bipartisan redistricting bill that cleared the House late last week.
The bill is clearly a compromise. All sides had to give a little in order to reach agreement. The bill is far from perfect, but it is better than the system currently in place.
HJR 12 would do the following:
- Bipartisan Redistricting Commission includes the governor, auditor and secretary of state, as well as Democratic and Republican legislative appointees from the Ohio General Assembly (one Democrat and one Republican both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate).
- Keeps cities and counties together rather than splitting them up. This should help voters understand who their representative is because the boundaries will make more sense.
- Prohibit crafting new state legislative maps that favor or disfavor one party over another.
- Require districts to more accurately reflect the percent of votes a political party receives in that area. This should reduce the current problem of districts that are gerrymandered to artificially give one party more or less seats than the party’s ability to garner votes.
- Create a more transparent process with additional public hearings and input.
It is important to note that the HJR12 reform bill only changes the way we draw districts for the state legislature. It does not address Congressional gerrymandering.
It also includes an “impasse resolution” which the Republicans wanted. This means that if the Ohio Redistricting Commission can’t create bipartisan maps, the maps will only last four years and a new Commission will have to draw district lines. The uncertainty of the statewide elections and the short term maps should dissuade the majority from passing maps without minority buy-in. Even if they do, the new map-makers are constrained by clear geographical compactness requirements.
While this resolution doesn't include Congress or replace map-makers, it's a modest step forward. A concurrence vote is expected in the Ohio House on Wednesday. If that occurs, it will be placed on the November 2015 ballot.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections