Redistricting Reform: Down But Not Out


August 5, 2010


Contact Ann Henkener 614-267-9699

So what do we do now? The Ohio General Assembly dithered and dallied and avoided approving a redistricting reform amendment to our constitution in time for the November ballot. All is not lost, however – yet!

When the Apportionment Board and the General Assembly redraw the state’s legislative and congressional district lines, respectively, in 2011, the League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWV-Ohio) urges them to voluntarily use the redistricting principles and procedures proposed and tested by the League a year ago. We must move away from the hyper-partisan redistricting models that produce districts that don’t reflect Ohio voters’ preferences, that permit protection of incumbents, and that encourage unnaturally high numbers of safe seats.

LWV-Ohio also urges voters to encourage the use of a fair, nonpartisan and transparent process to draw legislative and congressional districts by asking that all candidates for governor, secretary of state, and state auditor--and for state senator and state representative--support a transparent, public competition for redistricting plans.

The plans should be judged on four objective, measurable factors:

  • Representational fairness measures whether the proportion of districts drawn to favor a political party reflect the proportion of votes that party generally receives statewide. Since Ohio tends to be a 50/50 state, districts should be drawn to favor both major political parties evenly.
  •  Compactness encourages districts that do not wander around in bizarre shapes to favor one party or another in the classic gerrymander fashion.
  • Competitiveness encourages more districts that might be won by either political party. This would encourage electing legislators who are willing to solve problems in a bipartisan way.
  • Communities of interest encourages plans that minimize splitting up municipalities.

Finally, LWV-Ohio encourages Ohioans to request that all meetings and discussions of the Apportionment Board and General Assembly committees judging the plans be public, that they include opportunities for public comment, and that their final choices be explained.

What is not to like about a fair and transparent process that puts voters’ interests foremost? What excuse is there not to try it?

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public.