Three Generations of League of Women Voters of Ohio Presidents Urge: Don't Believe the False Promises. If Voters Want Reform, We Must Vote YES on Issue 2.

October 17, 2012

For Immediate Release

Contact: Carrie L. Davis, Executive Director

League of Women Voters of Ohio

Ph: 614.469.1505

E: cdavis@lwvohio.org

COLUMBUS, OHIO - Today, the League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWVO) unveiled a timeline of "Ohio Redistricting Reform History," documenting 40 years of attempts to reform the way we draw congressional and legislative districts. Current LWVO co-presidents Nancy Brown and Meg Flack were joined by past presidents Anne Smead (1999-2001) and Joan Lawrence (1975-77). The timeline revealed a disturbing pattern of false promises of reform, with parallels to the current campaign in opposition to Issue 2.

"Everyone agrees that our current system of drawing district lines is broken," said Nancy Brown, current co-president of LWVO. "What many voters don't realize is how long politicians have been stalling and blocking our attempts at reform."

The timeline shows that Ohioans have endured partisan gerrymandering every ten years, at the hands of whichever political party was in control at the time. The party in control manipulates district lines to its own benefit, drawing districts so heavily stacked in favor of one party or the other that voters have no hope of holding them accountable by voting them out.

"Your vote should mean something. You should be able to vote in or vote out the candidate of your choice. But you don't have that option when the districts are drawn to take away that choice," said LWVO past president and former state legislator Joan Lawrence, who began leading efforts in the 1980s to enact redistricting reform. "Back then, Republicans supported reform. Democrats-the party then in charge of drawing the districts-opposed it, and we lost," said Lawrence.

"For almost 40 years, every time the League has advocated redistricting reform, the political party in control has opposed our efforts and promised they would fix it later, only "later" has never happened" added Anne Smead. In 1999, LWVO once again campaigned to place redistricting reform on the ballot in order to reform the 2001-2002 redistricting process. Smead recalled that members of the then-majority Republican Party offered to place a reform measure on the ballot which would take effect in 2011 rather than 2001. The League was unable to collect enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot in 1999, and the Republicans never followed through.

"It's the same rhetoric today," LWVO Co-president Meg Flack added. "Opponents of Issue 2 say, 'Trust us; if you vote down this ballot issue, we'll pass reform later.' Ohio voters have heard this hollow promise before."

"The politicians have had their chance - many chances, in fact - and continually vote in their own self-interest rather than in the interest of voters. It's time for voters to say 'enough' and make reform a reality by voting Yes on Issue 2," concluded Joan Lawrence.

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