Today Ohioans approved Issue 1 by an overwhelming margin. Voters took a stand in favor of transparency and fairness in the drawing of General Assembly districts and against using redistricting to manipulate elections for political advantage.
Prior to today’s historic victory, the Ohio Constitution allowed politicians to draw General Assembly districts for political advantage instead of ensuring fair representation. In 2011, map-makers labeled the hotel room where they drew maps in secret “the bunker” and used partisan information to draw as many districts as possible for their party. They even changed district lines for a major political donor.
Today, voters rejected this sordid past and set Ohio democracy on a new path. Issue 1 will result in the following changes to the redistricting of General Assembly districts:
- Better partisan balance: creation of a seven-person bipartisan commission with at least two members of the minority party. Members include:
- State Auditor
- Secretary of State
- 1 person appointed by the Ohio Senate President
- 1 person appointed by the Speaker of the Ohio House
- 1 person appointed by the Ohio Senate Minority Leader
- 1 person appointed by the Ohio House Minority Leader
- Ban on partisan gerrymandering: explicit prohibition against drawing districts primarily to favor or disfavor a political party.
- Requirement that districts reflect how voters actually voted: a plan could face a legal challenge if, for example, a party that wins about half of the votes for the General Assembly does not win about half of the seats.
- Limitations on maps lacking bipartisan support: If the commission approves a map without at least two votes from the minority party, the map will only be in effect for four years rather than 10. This creates an incentive for bipartisan cooperation because the majority party on the commission has no guarantee it will remain in the majority four years later.
Now is the time to celebrate a huge victory for democracy, but our work is not finished. Issue 1 did not change how Ohio draws congressional districts, which are even more gerrymandered than General Assembly districts. Stay tuned as Common Cause Ohio works with our outstanding coalition partners to ensure that Ohioans have a voice when legislative districts at every level are drawn.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections