Note: Local 880 will provide the actual ballot language
once finalized by the Secretary of State of Ohio.
Ohio’s Bipartisan Redistricting Reform Deal
Issue 1 for May 18 Primary
On February 6, 2018, the Ohio House voted 83-10 to pass a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would, for the first time, require bipartisan input and approval for Ohio congressional maps. The proposal (Senate Joint Resolution 5), which was approved by the Ohio Senate on Monday, February 5 on a 31-0 vote, will be put to the voters on the May 2018 primary ballot. If approved by voters, the new rules will take effect in 2021 after the next census count.
A coalition of good-government groups, the NAACP Ohio Chapter, and the citizen-led Fair Districts = Fair Elections petition campaign are supportive of the measure, and have stated publicly that it meets their demands from any congressional redistricting reform proposal, which are the following:
- Both major parties must be meaningfully engaged in the process.
- Communities should not be needlessly split.
- Gerrymandering, or drawing a congressional map to favor or disfavor one political party, is prohibited.
The measure that passed creates a bipartisan process that strongly encourages a congressional map that better represents all Ohioans.
Here’s how it would works:
Stage One: Passage of a 10-year map requires a three-fifths vote of both the House and Senate, and must include at least 50 percent support of minority party members. If agreement isn’t reached, then the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission is the entity that begins the second phase of the process.
Stage Two: The Ohio Redistricting Commission, an established seven-person bipartisan commission, is then empowered to draw districts and must approve a map with at least two minority party votes. If an agreement isn’t reached for adoption for a 10-year map, the process moves to Stage 3.
Stage Three: The General Assembly makes another attempt to adopt a 10-year map with a three-fifths vote of both the House and Senate, and one-third of the minority party’s support. This map would be subject to a gubernatorial veto and a citizen referendum.
Any map drawn with bipartisan support as noted above would require some limitations on county splits. It would prohibit 65 counties from being split, 18 counties from being split no more than once, and five counties being split no more than twice.
The legislation also requires two public hearings on a proposed map, and public submissions of maps for consideration by the map drawing authority. This is significant because it strengthens the legal and public relations pressure to further deter partisan tendencies of the map-makers.
Stage 4: If a bipartisan map is not achieved and there is an impasse, a simple legislative majority would draw a temporary map for just four years, and strict map-drawing criteria are required. These criteria would prevent against unduly splitting counties and drawing maps that favor or disfavor a political party or incumbent.
As a further check on this process, this four-year map would be subject to a gubernatorial veto and a citizen referendum. The process starts again as this four-year map expires.
How did this happen?
While redistricting reform has been at issue in Ohio for decades, the bipartisan legislative deal was the recent result of months long negotiation and the past two weeks of non-stop dialogue between legislators and reform advocates. Leveraging the pressure created by the Fair Districts= Fair Elections coalition’s efforts to gather over 200,000 signatures, the lead negotiators, made-up of representatives from Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio Environmental Council, Innovation Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio, and the NAACP Ohio Chapter worked together closely to reach a deal. Having built a strong working partnership, this coalition of advocates will continue working together to help the Ohio voters understand what is at stake at the ballot box in May to install congressional redistricting reform in Ohio.