Columbus —Those frustrated over the hyper-partisan shenanigans in Congress and the Statehouse are urged to join a burgeoning new coalition dedicated to ending gerrymandering and restoring fairness to Ohio’s method of drawing congressional and legislative districts.
The announcement and call for membership come one week after a leading conservative think tank – Opportunity Ohio – and a leading progressive advocacy group – ProgressOhio – issued a joint statement calling for an end to the “dark art of drawing Ohio’s legislative maps in a partisan self-interest’’ and urged that meaningful reforms be put in place by June 2015.
“The response to our statement was overwhelming,’’ said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis. “Today, Ohio has a system that saddles voters with some of the strangest shaped, most unfair districts in the nation. It’s time we all work together to fix that.’’
The Coalition’s inaugural members include the Ohio Council of Churches, Faith in Public Life, Common Cause Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio,National Council of Jewish Women Columbus Section, Libertarian Party of Ohio and Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks, Theis said.
Growing demand for meaningful reform comes as Senate Republican leaders debuted a new proposal that would continue today’s skewed system of allowing the majority party to draw lines favoring their incumbents and packing the minority party into as few seats as possible. A similar plan surfaced in the Ohio House last month.
For true reform to occur, the Voice of the People Coalition said a new system is needed and must do the following:
- Eliminate gerrymandering
- Result in maps that preserve communities of interest and reflect the political balance of our swing state
- Maximize the number of competitive seats to the highest degree possible
- Use an open, transparent process to draw district lines
Although Ohio has a near equal number of registered Democrats and Republicans, about two-thirds of its legislative and congressional districts were intentionally drawn to favor Republican candidates.
A study released last week by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio shows today’s districts are largely uncompetitive, yielding predictable results. The winner of every 2014 Ohio Senate and U.S. House race could have been predicted by the districts’ partisan makeup, according to the groups’ analysis of preliminary election results.
The partisan leanings of each district predicted the winner in 96 of 99 Ohio House races this year.