State Issue 2 will be on the ballot in Ohio to reform the way congressional districts are drawn after each census. A cross section of groups from the League of Women Voters to the Ohio Libertarian Party support the amendment. The Republicans and those wanting to keep the power to draw district lines are opposed. The opponents recently started airing a commercial that attempts to mislead the voters about State Issue 2.
Before I talk about why the opposition’s ad is misleading, I want to explain why State Issue 2 is needed.
After the 2010 census the majority Republican legislature and executive branch, in secret and under the direction of US House Speaker John Boehner, redrew district lines that made a majority of the state’s districts solid Republican and Gerrymandered some of the remaining districts – the worst being the 9th district.
Here is the 9th District before the redistricting:
Then after redistricting in 2012:
Most of district is over Lake Erie with a small sliver hugging the shore between Toledo and a part of Cleveland. This lead to current 9th District representative Marcy Kaptur (D) into a primary with Rep Dennis Kucinich (D) which Kaptur won.
Now here is the partisan break down in Ohio next to how the districts are setup after the redistricting:
Doesn’t look fair at all and that is the result when you let the people who benefit from the redistricting do the redistricting. State Issue 2 would take the redistricting out of the legislators hands and have an independent civilian commission come up with the new congressional districts. The amendment calls for the redistricting to keep contiguous areas together, reflect the partisan balance in the state, and have the districts be competitive which gives voters more say on who represents them.
So of course the opponents have brought up some issues about the amendment in their television commercial that is airing now.
1. It creates a system of unelected commissioners who would influence who would represent voters
False – The whole point of the reform is to fix the broken system we currently have (see above). Also the most recent redistricting was done by unelected people in secret:
It’s also important to note one other very important fact: the people who actually drew the horrible, Gerrymandered districts this time – the ones Republicans claim are responsible to the voters – were NOT politicians but instead highly paid Republican operatives.
Heather Mann and Ray DiRossi, both veteran Republican legislative staffers, have never been elected to public office. And yet both were directly responsible for drawing the new lines. Mann and DiRossi were each paid $105,000, despite the fact that neither had any redistricting experience, to sit in the secret “bunker” and redraw district lines – often taking direction from other non-elected officials like Tom Whatman, former ORP executive director and lobbyist and current director of the Team Boehner PAC.
Even if you agree, for some odd reason, that the politicians in power should have the absolute right to secretly redraw their own legislative and congressional districts without any input from the public or other political parties, you still have to admit: that is absolutely NOT what the Republicans did last year.
The commission system in Ohio isn’t unaccountable as the ad wants the viewer to think and has been used for decades for all kinds of state work – like the Public Utilities Commission that regulates utilities.
2. The commission can set their own pay and tax payers would be forced to foot the bill
False – The commission would need funding to do their work and the amendment makes sure that it can’t be manipulated by the legislature through the funding process. Besides the commission will only be in operation after each census – every 10 years. It won’t be a boondoggle like using private jets for personal use.
3. Issue 2 provides no way to remove these commissioners
False – The amendment doesn’t allow for the legislature or executive branch to remove members of the commission – that’s logical since those bodies don’t appoint any of them but needs to be stated because you know they will try to do it. Again, it is to prevent the manipulation of the commission by removing members the particular party in power doesn’t like – as happened in Arizona last year. Ohio’s new commission would still be subject to state law regarding commissions (i.e. ethics and gift rules) and the commission can remove its own members.
The folks behind the Unaccountable Bureaucrats ad are misleading the viewer about Issue 2.
The truth is Issue 2 is needed so that neither party can game the redistricting to benefit themselves at the expense of the rest of the citizens of Ohio. We need redistricting that is fair, transparent, and leads to competitive districts.
Please Vote YES on Issue 2
*Update: Republicans admit anti-Issue 2 ad was false*
According the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio GOP admitted that their anti-Issue 2 ad was false:
An Elections Commission panel two weeks ago found probable cause that one of the statements was false — that commission members would be chosen in secret. But rather than go forward with a full hearing yesterday, the two sides reached a settlement.
Under the agreement, neither the Republican Party nor Protect Your Vote Ohio, the Republican group formed to fight Issue 2, will state in campaign materials or television ads that some members of the new citizens commission will be chosen in secret. Also, the Republican Party will stop using the phrase “blank check” in reference to funding of or spending by the commission.