On Monday August 6th, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted certified a constitutional amendment for the Nov. 6 ballot that would reform the way congressional districts are drawn after each census in Ohio. It would restore democracy in one important part of our political system by taking the redistricting out of the hands of the people it benefits – the politicians. If voters are tired of the partisanship of our current system then they should pass the amendment on election day.
What the amendment would do:
Voters First’s proposal will create an Independent Citizens Commission. Politicians, lobbyists and political insiders are prohibited from serving on the commission. The Commission’s work will be open and it will be accountable to the public. The Commission will empower voters to choose their politicians instead of politicians picking their voters.
- Citizens, Not Politicians. Instead of the current procedures (in which politicians draw district boundaries that unfairly favor their own party and/or protect incumbents), a 12-member Citizens Commission will create the districts. Any member of the public can submit a plan for consideration.
- Openness and Transparency. All meetings, records, communications and draft plans of the Commission must be open to the public. No more backroom deals.
- Balance and Impartiality. The Citizens Commission will include equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and the approval of at least seven of the twelve members of the commission will be required for the adoption of any plan. This will ensure that the final plan fairly represents all Ohioans, not just those currently in power.
- Community Representation. Districts will be created that are geographically compact, and which minimize the division of counties, townships, municipalities and wards between different districts.
- Accountability & Competitive Districts. Politically balanced districts will be created, rather than “safe districts” which make it difficult or impossible for voters to hold elected officials accountable.
- Fairness. To the greatest extent possible, the share of districts leaning toward a party will reflect the political preferences of the voters of Ohio.
You can check out the detailed ballot language that Voters First wants to use. If passed the amendment would force redistricting in 2014 and then after each census and would force more competitive districts. The most recent redistricting led to all the “winners” to be chosen during the primary shutting out a large part of the electorate who only vote in the general election.
Of course the Republicans in Ohio are against the amendment because they wrote the new map and control a majority of the districts. Whatever party is in power would be against it, but it is now the time to reform the process and have a civilian commission do the work. The GOP and their various astroturf groups will probably throw alot of money against the amendment. Follow the money.
Our elected officials are suppose to be working in our best interests not their own.
If voters are tired of the partisanship of our current system (like I am) then they should pass the amendment on election day.