New way to draw Ohio political maps on fall ballot

Ohio voters next month will decide whether the state should move forward with a proposal to change the process for redrawing its political districts.
Associated Press
Oct 8, 2012

Debate over Issue 2 has been contentious. It proposes a 12-member commission of state residents to re-draw Ohio's legislative and congressional maps every 10 years.

Currently, the state Legislature draws the U.S. House districts, and the five-member state apportionment board draws legislative districts. The governor, secretary of state, auditor and two legislative appointees make up the apportionment board.

There's broad agreement that Ohio's system needs repair, but considerable disagreement about whether Issue 2 offers the right fix.

Voters First, which supports the plan, argues that there's too much self-interest in the current process.

"This is a very simple plan. It ends the corrupt system we have today that lets politicians design their own districts," said Sandy Theis, a spokeswoman for the labor-backed coalition. "It will take that power away from them and give it to an independent citizens' commission that would have to do all its business in public."

The first nine members of the commission would be selected by lottery from 42 applicants placed into Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated pools by a panel of appeals court judges. The first nine members selected would pick the other three.

Protect Your Vote Ohio, the opposition campaign, says the lengthy constitutional amendment is rife with risky unknowns. It closely resembles a commission that California voters approved in 2010.

"While you have a process (in Ohio) now that's accountable to taxpayers because it's conducted by elected officials, voters would have no recourse in terms of holding these commissioners accountable or for repealing their decisions," said spokesman Carlo LoParo.

Opponents believe unaffiliated commissioners would be particularly susceptible to political pressure at map-drawing time. The Ohio State Bar Association and Ohio Judicial Conference oppose the issue out of concern that appellate judges also would be vulnerable to political pressure.

Theis said the concern is misplaced.

"There have been dozens of the state's top legal and constitutional scholars who signed an open letter that explained that OSBA's concerns are totally misguided," she said. "They've done a great disservice because they've entered the political arena and peddled inaccurate information."

The feud between the two sides has carried over to the Ohio Elections Commission and the state Ballot Board, pitting its largely Democratic backers against largely Republican opponents. Republicans have drawn Ohio's U.S. House maps for 20 years, and its legislative maps for 30.

Opponents include the Ohio Republican Party, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Right to Life and state associations of CPAs, retail merchants, and farmers. Supporters include the League of Women Voters, NAACP, ProgressOhio, Ohio Citizen Action, Planned Parenthood and the Ohio Council of Churches.

Another ballot issue, called Issue 1, asks voters whether they'd like to call a convention to "revise, alter, or amend" the Ohio Constitution. Such a convention would include discussion of redistricting and term limits and a cleanup of existing constitutional language, among other tasks.

The state's governing document emerged from the state's first constitutional convention in Chillicothe in 1802. It was revisited at conventions in 1851 and 1912.

Under state law, the question of a constitutional convention comes before voters every two decades. Four previous ballot issues calling for a convention have been rejected. There has been no significant support or opposition campaign this year.

The map-drawing and constitutional convention issues are on the Nov. 6 ballot.

 

Comments

AJ Oliver

It's high time to stop politicians from giving themselves safe seats by gerrymandering districts. As we have seen, this only leads to extremism and hyper partisanship. If most distircts were competitive, the pols would have a harder time ignoring us. As it is now, they can safely ignore members of their district's minority party because they don't need those votes.

Vote yes on Issue Teo.

Dinghy Gal

Issue Teo? Honest mistake I guess. However, a yes on issue two is not the answer to this problem. It appears this proposal was contrived by the minority party to hinder the party we the people elected to run the State of Ohio. Vote NO on issue TWO!

John Harville

Republicans raised the same complaint when they were the minority. At least Issue Two will eliminate such complaining. YES ON TWO!

Man of the Republic

This is a terrible amendment. Both sides have already come together on this issue and are discussing alternatives to present way of drawing district lines. This is a commission of unelected, unaccountable people -- on which 75% of the poopulation is not eligible to sit -- who sets its own budget, and does not have to draw the lines in time for the next congressional election. There isn't any recall given in the ammendment for corrupt commission members who may take bribes. Vote NO on issue 2, and let the process that both parties have agreed to take place.

John Harville

Issue Two requires the commission be appointed and begin meeting by February 1 with a deadline of having new districts before the November election. Anything has to be better than the method that made District 4 extend from Springfield to Elyria, going around Kenton, Findlay and Upper Sandusky.
YES ON TWO.
BTW... the two sides only "came together... and are discussing" after citizens compiled signatures on TWO voting amendments.
YES ON TWO.

The Big Dog's back

Yes on 2.

Randy_Marsh

I do not think this would be a problem if the other party was in charge, BUT seeing are they are loseing ground NOW its a big deal. Weird huh?

eriemom

The goal of this bill is make sure that we are all represented and it won't matter who is "in charge". It has only NOW become a big deal because the people in charge are working only to stay in office instead of doing their jobs.

eriemom

Anyone who can look at the way that the representative lines were recently drawn, and not know that there is a problem, obviously has a vision problem. What we are currently doing does not work. Districts are supposed to be drawn to represent the people within the district. The purpose was never to draw them in such a way that the political representatives could not be voted out of office, and that is what we have now. Worse, if there can be such a thing, is drawing the lines in such a way that certain representatives can collect donations.

KnuckleDragger

Amazing how it all of a sudden "doesn't work" when it no longer is advantageous to Democrats. One only needs to look at the list of groups who support this to know that the law would stack the deck only for Democrats. If it didn't either there would be less liberal groups supporting it or more conservative groups supporting it. Another bogus drive funded by unions in order to get democrats back in power.

DGMutley

Never has worked.

John Harville

Define "all of a sudden", please.
-Districts are redrawn after the census - which was in 2010.]
-With that Census, Ohio lost two house seats.
-Jim Jordan, TP rep in District 4, argued with John Boehner in the closed-door meeting to redraw the map. As punishment, his 'safe' Findlay and Kenton were taken out of his District and he has to cover from Springfield to Elyria - one of the 'prettiest' gerrymanders ever seen.
-For whatever reason, Bob Latta's 'semi-safe' counties were given to Jordan and Latta suddenly had some of Marcy Kaptur's 'unsafe' district.
-Kaptur then was stretched from Toledo to Cleveland and forced to run against fellow Dem Dennis Kucinich whom Boehner wanted out.
If it was such a good plan, why was it conceived behind closed doors?

coasterfan

There can be no logical reason to NOT be in favor of Issue 2. It lets important issues get decided by the PEOPLE, instead of by special interest groups. It makes sure that neither party has an unfair advantage. Well said, Eriemom.

Vote YES on Issue 2.

wiredmama222

I added it up. The yes's have it so far. So vote yes it is!

Pete

"It lets important issues get decided by the PEOPLE, instead of by special interest groups."

You mean Special Interest Groups like the OEA and other unions?

See my post below.

Pete

The Ohio teachers union (OEA) is writing checks at $100,000 a pop to the group backing this.

As of July 31st:

"The largest supporters of the effort by far are teachers. The Ohio Education Association thus far has contributed $700,000 to the cause."

http://www.cleveland.com/open/in...

This is a sure sign that in no way, shape, or form is this good for the taxpayers of Ohio.

Non-Partisan and Grass Roots legislation my ***:

"Then The Plain Dealer's Reginald Fields pulled Voters First's campaign finance report and found out where its money had already come from: All but $30,000 of $1.63 million collected during the first six months of the year was from labor unions or other groups tightly aligned with the Ohio Democratic Party"

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion...

John Harville

Of course public unions are behind it. But the governor and legislature and John Boehner mostly can blame that on themselves. It's readily assumable that a commission with four each Rep Dem and Ind who are not officeholders will develop a more fair districting program.
Good for Ohio taxpayers? No, STUPENDOUS! It means districts will be balanced and candidates no longer will be shoo-ins - like when District 88 (formerly 81) Repub Rex Damschroder went to Columbus because the original redraw gave him a third county in which no one knew him and he couldn't ride on the family name.
YES ON TWO

Pete

Let me guess, you are in one of the unions hiding behind another group?

Trying to pass this off as a grass roots thing when in fact it is the losers on the left that are trying to get this passed.

Sorry, but what you want is not good for me. So I will vote NO ON TWO!

Heck, Marcy only comes here now when she wants to pick up a check. If the people around Cleveland have donations for her, she will make the haul.

Make every member on the commission an independent, never been a party member, never been in a union, and I will think about it. But the way it is set up now it is just sour grapes because you lost the election at redistricting time.

"Elections have consequences" said your Messiah. And yes, yes they do.

reese

Vote YES for Issue 2!

There has been extreme manipulation of district lines to favor Republicans, where district lines have been drawn around areas that over lap two previous districts where popular Democratic elected officials ended up in the same new district, forcing them to run against each other and eliminating one of them in the Primaries (e.g. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich). The lines have been re-drawn to favor Republicans. This is because of the political affiliation of those who currently have the authority to drawn the lines. It is a highly partisan process. You do this by chopping up areas that have large Democratic leaning constituencies and adding little pieces of that area to strong Republican areas. Chop, chop, chop. This mainly effects U.S House of Representative races and state legislative races.

District lines should be drawn in a way that people in Cleveland should be able to elect officials to represent them that actually represent the beliefs and needs of that district. Same thing for Akron, Toledo, Erie County and all other areas of the state.

I believe an independent group of people will be able to draw these lines motivated by the interests of the citizens of Ohio, and not on political party gains. It is fairer, no matter which party is in power.

Pete

You want this group independent then the requirements need to be as follows:

NEVER belonged to a political party

NEVER belonged to a labor organization

NEVER belonged to NFIB, Chamber of Commerce, etc

The way this legislation is written it will still be the same party hacks that have always controlled things. The big difference is the left is whining like little kids that lost their binky because they couldn't control the process. If they had control of the Legislature and drew the lines it would be just as bad but favor D's and not R's.

John Harville

History does not support your allegation that it would b e worse under Dems.

Pete

Just ask the people of Detroit how things run under total Democrat control.

You could also ask the the guys that ran Cuyahoga County how things worked under Democrat control too. Well, if you can get past the guards at their prison that is.

Informed

Pete, your last sentence is exactly the point that those of us in favor of Issue 2 are trying to make. No majority in power should be able to draw those lines in order to garner benefit from them, whether they are R or D.

Pete

If the D's were in charge and drew the lines, would this have even come up? Would you be backing it? I seriously doubt you would.

But the way we have it now I will stick with. At least I can vote for the person who chooses those lines.

I do not trust the OEA or AFSCME at all. What they want is generally contrary to the public good. Since they are for this, it has to be terrible for the average person in this state.

tk

This has not been an easy issue for me to decide on. I hate the jerrymandering no matter who is doing it and I think it is past time for it to stop. I'm just not sure if the proposed solution is the right one. I do know that it is ridiculous that our district stretches from Toledo to Cleveland. No one can adequately represent such a wide and diverse area.

John Harville

Our District extents from Lorain/Elyria to the northwest corner of Columbus, dodging Kenton, Findlay, Upper Sandusky, Willard and wrapping around the south and east ends of yours.

Armymom7

Thanks, Pete, for providing needed info on the background on this issue. I'm always concerned about adding amendments to our state constitution. Coaster fan, the unions are the "special interest" groups in this. It still would be politically based since judges are politically appointed. There does not seem to be any checks and balances to the commission. I don't believe Voters will be able to remove anyone once appointed, thus removing the checks and balances. We're seeing the same type of thing with the commissions ordered by Obamacare. Too much power going to a small group of people with no recourse on decisions made by them. Instead of permanently changing our constitution right away, why don't we let the bipartisan group give it a try?

Randy_Marsh

Advocacy groups (also pressure groups, lobby groups and some interest groups and special interest groups) use various forms of advocacy to influence public opinion and/or policy; they have played and continue to play an important part in the development of political and social systems. Groups vary considerably in size, influence and motive; some have wide ranging long term social purposes, others are focused and are a response to an immediate issue or concern.
Hey look there The Democrats/Republicans are only special interest groups so why should THEY get to figure out who draws what line where? I thought the Messiah didnt like special interest groups and was going to kick them out of washington, Seems he represents one. Maybe if the citizens could get a word in edgewise from the idiotic party fruits and the laws prohibiting different partys this country wouldnt be half the cesspool it has become.

John Harville

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE cite for us from the actual ballot language where it says the commission members cannot be removed.
Presently the 'members' of the 'commission' that drew the new districts included John Boehner WHO HAS NO RIGHT to be involved but gathered Republicans in a hotel suite to draw the proposal the 'commission' would present. It was soooooooooooo illegal it was forced to be reworked.
@Coasterfan, pay no attention to "Mom". She didn't bother to study the Amendment but to take right-wing slant as 'gospel'. It's unfortunate her Army person fights to feed the gerrymander and those who breed it. Sorry, Mom, Pete lead you down the Garden Path. Please search for the actual document and ballot language (which the courts had to require the ballot commission - heavily Republican - to rewrite since it was so confusiing.
Please 'Mom' - for the Army.

luvblues2

Draw the lines for districts and don't let them change. We can't expect to take part of Indiana, Mich., Kentucky, W.Va or PA as part of our state because we chose to change boundaries, right? Draw the lines. No-one gets to change them. After that, you either vote for what pleases you, or vote with your feet and leave. We don't need anyone changing these lines to suit them staying or controlling any district.

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