Common Cause Ohio

Redistricting

 

Every ten years, following the completion of the United States Census, Ohio's state and federal political districts are re-drawn. Districts must be adjusted to account for changes in population so that districts are equal in size. More on redistricting.

 

2011

As a result of the 2010 Census, Ohio lost two congressional seats for a new total of 16 seats. For congressional redistricting, both houses of the legislature are responsible for re-drawing the lines, in addition to the Secretary of State. However, a quasi-independent redistricting commission is responsible for state legislative redistricting, made up of the Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor, a Democrat and a Republican.

 

This means that legislators have the ability to draw their own district boundries, dividing neighborhoods or groups of people in ways that benefit their own electoral needs.

Common Cause Ohio, along with 24 other Ohio organizations, have joined together to seek a fair, open, and nonpartisan redistricting process. We launched a competition which allowed private citizens to draw congressional and state legislative districts using publicly available software and the same population and voting data used by public officials. The plans were scored by objective criteria: preserving county boundaries; compactness; competitiveness; and representational fairness.

We found that when politics were removed from the process, maps could be drawn which created compact districts that kept communities together. Moreover, the districts were politically balanced and would give voters a real choice in future elections. In comparison, the maps which were adopted by the politicians created safe Republican and Democratic seats which will give the voters little ability to hold their legislators accountable.

In fact, the congressional plan which was ultimately adopted by the Legislature scored lower than all 53 plans submitted during the competition.

Our next step to ensure that future redistricting is done in a fair and nonpartisan way is to amend Ohio’s Constitution — a difficult, but not impossible task. 385,253 signatures from registered voters would place a constitutional amendment on next November’s ballot.

 

  

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