Tonight, Ohio voters approved a historic state constitutional amendment that will institute strong protections against partisan political gerrymandering in congressional redistricting.
After democracy advocates collected over 200,000 signatures to place a redistricting initiative on the 2018 ballot, the Ohio General Assembly voted to place Issue 1 on the May ballot with a strong bipartisan vote. Today Ohioans voted to ratify the measure.
“Ohioans never gave up on the fight to end to the manipulation of congressional districts for political advantage and today our efforts paid off,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio. “We are thrilled that the trans-partisan coalition of legislators, organizations, and individual Ohioans that Fair Districts = Fair Elections built has won an important victory for fair representation for every Ohioan.”
“Tonight Ohio voters sent a clear message to politicians and special interest groups across the country who continue to use partisan gerrymandering to rig voting maps by choosing their voters to maximize partisan political advantage,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Redistricting reform is gaining momentum and Common Cause and its members have played a key role in passing a number of important reforms. 2018 is going to be a historic year for redistricting reform, as Ohio is the first of several states expected to vote on ballot measures aimed at making the redistricting process more fair and transparent.”
The vote in Ohio is the latest example of how the movement for fair maps and to end gerrymandering is growing. Voters in Michigan, Colorado, Missouri, and Utah will also likely have a chance to vote on redistricting reform on the November 2018 ballot. The Colorado campaign has not yet begun to gather signatures, but the other three campaigns have submitted signatures and are awaiting certification to determine whether they will be placed on the November ballot.
Additionally, two high-profile cases challenging partisan political redistricting cases have already been heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this year: Gill v. Whitford, a challenge to Republican gerrymandering in Wisconsin, and Benisek v. Lamone, a challenge Democratic partisan gerrymandering in Maryland. The Supreme Court will rule on both cases later this term and will also likely hear a third case brought by Common Cause challenging partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina (Common Cause v. Rucho) next term.
About Ohio’s Issue 1 Reform:
Issue 1 focuses on reining in the worst excesses of gerrymandering through bipartisan mapmaking, greater transparency and giving Ohioans tools so that they can make their own maps and participate more fully in mapmaking. This reform will create a multi-step process making it more difficult for one party to draw districts to give itself an unfair advantage in elections. Under the measure, approval of a map will now require a supermajority and bipartisan support in either the General Assembly or, if that fails, in the Ohio Redistricting Commission. If a plan does not receive supermajority and bipartisan approval from either the General Assembly or the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the General Assembly may adopt a plan with a simple majority. However, a map approved in this manner must adhere to stricter requirements protecting against gerrymandering and the map legislators approve will only last four years.
Ohioans previously approved a measure in 2015 to revamp the state legislative redistricting process, which won 71% of the vote and in all 88 counties.