Update on redistricting reform

Below is a message from the League of Women Voters:

“Last Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio applauded the overwhelming passage of Substitute Senate Joint Resolution 5 by the Ohio General Assembly. SJR 5 will place an issue on the May ballot reforming Ohio’s congressional redistricting process to protect voters’ interests.

After weeks of negotiations, the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition reached a compromise last Monday with legislative leaders of both parties on a new process for drawing congressional districts. The proposed constitutional amendment will go before Ohio voters for approval in May.  Meanwhile, the coalition will continue our petition effort in case the legislature measure does not pass. We are committed to the principles put forth in our proposal, and are prepared to submit the amendment for the November ballot if the legislature’s proposal fails.

“This compromise was hard-fought – down to the last minute – requiring concessions on both sides, and we are not entering into it lightly. We will work to educate voters and support this issue on the May ballot, but we will not abandon our proposal until redistricting reform is a reality, not just an agreement,” said Beth Taggart, interim Executive Director of LWV Ohio. “Ultimately, what brought legislators to the table and kept them talking to us was the record-breaking work of our incredible volunteers collecting over 200,000 petition signatures.”

By requiring significant bipartisan support, first in the legislature and then in the Ohio redistricting commission, and triggering strict rules for drawing districts if the parties cannot come to an agreement, this process will set up checks and balances to improve congressional maps. Partisan gerrymandering has a long and ignominious history, dating back to America’s founding fathers, but this measure will make significant progress toward fairer districts. For more information, see a more detailed summary and the text of the resolution .

“Voters have waited far too long for state lawmakers to come together to fix gerrymandering and create fairer elections,” said Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio. “Voters deserve to participate in meaningful elections, and Democrats and Republicans came together to pass a resolution that will help rein in the worst excesses of partisan gerrymandering.””

Until redistricting reform passes in May, the petition drive will remain open. If you have petitions with signatures, please email actionteam@organizing4ua.com to arrange to turn them in. You may continue to collect signatures, as long as it is made clear that the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition is supporting the Ohio General Assembly’s proposal, and that petitions would only be submitted as a backup plan if the issue fails in May.

Thank you for your efforts on this important issue!