Redistricting

Welcome to our redistricting page!

Here are links to the pros and cons for Issue 1, a ballot initiative designed to reform how Congressional districts are drawn in Ohio.

Ohioans will be voting on Issue 1 in the May 8 primary election. The Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition asks you to vote “Yes” on Issue 1. For more information, see this important update about the redistricting reform petition drive.

Pick up/drop off petitions:

Email actionteam@organizing4ua.com to arrange for petition pick up or drop off.

If you pick up a petition from us, please drop off the petition to us.

You can also pick up petitions directly from Fair Districts pickup locations:

http://www.fairdistrictsohio.org/petitions.html

Ideas of places to collect signatures:

1. Talk to your friends and neighbors!

2. Large events are great places to get signatures. Be sure to take multiple booklets if you are likely to encounter voters from multiple counties.

3. Libraries

4. Locations outside of UA:

We suggest you find a buddy and be creative about finding new locations. Here are a few ideas to try:

Columbus libraries.

Downtown bus stop in front of Ohio Statehouse.

Downtown courthouses.

Training

Please review these petition collection remindersand best practices from Fair Districts = Fair Elections.

Review this online training from Fair Districts = Fair Elections reviews the do’s and don’ts of signature gathering. Petition circulating guidelines are included below.

FAIRCONGRESSIONALDISTRICTSFOROHIOPETITIONCIRCULATINGGUIDELINES

  • A circulator must be a US Citizen and at least 18 years old to circulate.
  • You must fill out the Statement of Circulator page with your printed name, signature, address, and the number of signatures you witness.
    • This number cannot be less than the number of signatures lines used on the petition, regardless of validity.
  • YOU MAY NOT SIGN YOUR OWN PETITION.
  • Only registered Ohio voters may sign the petition. Voters must be registered at the address they list on the petition. PO Boxes are not acceptable addresses.
  • Only voters from a single county may appear in a single petition.
    • If you have a voter in a second county who wants to sign, use a new petition or one that already has voters from that county in it.
  • Ask everyone to print in blue or black ink. NO pencil, NO red ink.
  • Signers should complete all fields except for Ward/Precinct.
    • While with the voter, circulators can fill in missing information for voters in each field EXCEPT FOR THE SIGNATURE. Nicknames that are close to legal names are allowed. For example, Andy rather than Andrew is OK.
  • Ditto marks are acceptable for all information EXCEPT THE SIGNATURE.
  • You are allowed to collect signatures on public property. Always ask permission before collecting signatures on private property.

CRITICAL: Before you turn in your petition, count the number of signature lines that have been used in your book, regardless of errors, and use that number for your total number of signatures. If the total number of signatures reported is LESS than the number of signature lines used, the petition can be thrown out. For example, if you have 10 signature lines used, but 5 are scratched out due to errors, you should still report 10, NOT 5.

Your entire petition can be thrown out if (1) you are not eligible to circulate (see the 1st bullet point), (2) you incorrectly fill out the circulator statement (see the 2nd bullet point), or (3) if there are two signatures on the same petition in the same hand writing (this applies to the signatures only – not other information).

Redistricting Reform Talking Points

Here are just a few of the consequences of gerrymandering, compiled from presentations by Professor Richard Gunther and Catherine Turcer of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition.

When politicians draw district lines in order to benefit one political party over the other:

  • We have fewer competitive elections
    • In 2016, the mean margin of victory in congressional races in Ohio was about 36 points.
    • It’s more difficult to hold your elected officials accountable.
      • The higher their job security, the lower the chance they’ll be motivated to listen to their constituents.
    • Because the party affiliation of the winner is effectively a foregone conclusion, the “real vote” is in the primaries
      • Because primary voters may differ from general election voters in their attitudes and degree of partisanship, we can end up with more extreme candidates and a more polarized political climate.
  • The distribution of seats doesn’t reflect voter preferences.
  • Because gerrymandered districts often break up cities and counties, undermining the representation of communities.

For all the details, see the PowerPoint slides from the presentation given by Professor Richard Gunther of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition at our April meeting. This articleby also gives a good summary of many of the same points.

What is the plan?

In 2015, about71% of Ohio voters supported state legislative redistricting reform.  Now, the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition is working to get congressional redistricting reform on the ballot in Ohio. Check out the text of the proposal, the ballot summary submitted to the Ohio Attorney General and highlights of the proposal on the Coalition website.

Common Cause is a member of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition.  Visit their Ohio redistricting page for some background about redistricting in Ohio, and ways to take action. The League of Women Voters of Ohiois another central member of the coalition.

For the latest updates on the redistricting reform effort, follow the Fair Districts = Fair Elections blog.

Fun Learning Resources

Have you seen John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on gerrymandering? It’s entertaining and extremely informative. It’s an HBO show, folks, so there is some language that may be not suitable for work or when young ones are around.

Have you played The Redistricting Game? It’s a fun way to bring gerrymandering into focus.

Get your district’s Gerrymander Index Score from this Washington Post interactive page, which used a measure of compactness.

This Washington Post WonkBlog post bills itself as “the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see”.

FAQs (Under Construction)

This recording from Fair Districts = Fair Elections answers many of the most frequently asked questions about redistricting reform.

Why do congressional district boundaries need to be redrawn?
The number of seats in the House of Representatives each state has is based on population. The reapportionment of congressional districts occurs after the U.S. Census, which is conducted every 10 years. For states with more than one district, the population within each congressional district is supposed to be roughly equal. The Voting Rights Act also has provisions that apply to the redistricting process.

How are congressional district boundaries in Ohio drawn now?
The Ohio State Legislature (Ohio General Assembly) approves congressional district boundaries.

Didn’t we already pass redistricting reform?
In 2015, Ohioans overwhelmingly supported an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that created a bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw state legislative districts. The new initiative proposes that the bipartisan commission also draw US Congressional district lines.

I’m a Republican/Independent. Why should I be against gerrymandering?
Gerrymandered districts result in uncompetitive elections. Even if your representative is from your political party, it’s more difficult to hold them accountable when they are almost guaranteed to be reelected.