by Hannah McCartney
Organization submits 450,000 petition signatures to Ohio Secretary of State
Ohio's House Bill 369 has been causing fuss across the state since it was signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich last December, and opponents of the bill are close to getting an amendment onto the November ballot that would redesign the congressional districts instituted by the bill.
On July 3, Voters First, a coalition established after HB-369's inception to combat the bill's Republican-led efforts to deliberately have congressional and legislative districts drawn in their favor, submitted 450,000 petition
signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State — significantly more than the
385,000 signatures necessary to obtain a spot on the November ballot.
At the end of the month, the Secretary of State will review the
signatures and determine which are eligible, after which the coalition will have another set period to obtain more signatures, should the 385,000 not be met. Opponents of HB-369 argue the drawing of last year's new congressional districts represents gerrymandering — when district boundaries are deliberately manipulated to favor a specific political party, grouping certain demographics strategically and distorting voter representations. According to Voters First, last year's secretive redistricting process was led exclusively by Republicans who deliberately disregarded public input. They've been working to amass support for a new bill that would bring transparency and fairness to the redistricting process, which typically occurs every ten years following a census. According to Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor and member of the Voters First coalition, the issue is one that crosses all party lines. "This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. [Gerrymandering] has been done by both parties. The opposition has been trying to characterize this as a Democrat-led effort." What has happened, explains Tokaji, is that in Ohio the Republicans currently hold political control, so it just so happens that they jumped on the redistricting opportunity to create districts that specifically advantage them. "You could throw a bucket of paint on the wall and it wouldn't be as ugly as these maps," says Tokaji. In Cincinnati, the redistricting included more suburban and rural areas in the city's Congressional district, potentially giving Republicans greater weight in the district (CityBeat reported on the situation May 30 in response to We Are Ohio
joining the effort to overturn the GOP-drawn maps.) Voters First has proposed an amendment for the November ballot that would bring transparency and fairness to the redistricting process by establishing a 12-member "Ohio Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission" that would be made up of non-partisan Ohio citizens. According to Tokaji, members would have to go through an application process that would specifically eliminate politicians, lobbyists and large political donors. Tokaji says the commission would bring to the redistricting process four key components that were deliberately absent in the 2011 process, including fairness, encouragement of competition, respect for community boundaries and compactness of districts. "Ohioans across the political spectrum are just tired of politics as usual. They're sick of leaders acting in a selfish way. We need to change that. To read the
full text of Voters First’s proposed amendment, click here. For more information about Voters First or to sign the petition, click here.
0 Comments · Wednesday, May 30, 2012
The well-funded organization We Are Ohio
announced on May 21 that it will be taking up redistricting laws as its
next major initiative by joining forces with Ohio Voters First, an
organization that was created in response to a Republican redistricting
plan that created 12 solidly Republican districts and four largely
by German Lopez
at 11:10 AM | Permalink
Organization will push amendment to create nonpartisan redistricting commission
The well-funded organization We
Are Ohio announced Monday that it will be taking up redistricting laws as its
next major battle.
We Are Ohio is already known for
leading the charge against the state legislature’s attempts to weaken
collective bargaining among public employees with Senate Bill 5 and lower the
window of time to vote with House Bill 194 and now Senate Bill 295.
The organization announced it
would be backing Ohio Voters First, a group aiming to take down politicized
Ohio Voters First is currently
trying to get enough signatures to put an amendment on the November ballot that
would place redistricting powers in the hands of an independent citizens
Redistricting is a process in
which the state legislature redraws district boundaries. Originally,
redistricting was meant to be used so states and districts could keep up with
shifting populations. It is typically done every 10 years in response to the
However, politicians were quick
to hijack the process. In what is known as “gerrymandering,” politicians redraw
district boundaries in a way that gives them or their political parties
favorable demographics and places in terms of getting elected.
Redistricting cost Democratic
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland his congressional seat this year. When
Republicans redrew the district map in Ohio in response to the 2010 census,
they did so in a way that pit Kucinich against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in
a primary battle.
The primary fight was a dream
come true for Republicans as two prominent liberals in Congress were forced to
fight for their political lives. Kucinich lost by nearly 30
Other states have already
undertaken measures to safeguard against gerrymandering. California recently
enacted reform that calls on an independent citizen commissions to draw up
districts, and voters will be taking advantage of the nonpartisan redistricting
for the first time in the June 7 primary. Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho and New
Jersey also use independent or bipartisan commissions.
Three Democrats battle for the new 31st Ohio House District
4 Comments · Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Fascinating, diverse, progressive — those
are just a handful of words that are being used to describe the new 31st
Ohio House District. Consisting of Amberley Village, Clifton,
Clifton Heights, Evanston, Madisonville, Hyde Park, Northside, Oakley,
Silverton, St. Bernard and Walnut Hills, the district contains many
walks of life, including a healthy liberal population.