Ohio voters have an excellent opportunity between today, when early voting begins, and May 8, primary election day, to have a big influence on future elections.
They can do that by approving Issue 1, the only statewide matter on the ballot, which would create a bipartisan public process for drawing Ohio’s congressional districts every 10 years.
It’s been argued by some that Issue 1 isn’t perfect and that the current mapmaking process isn’t broken. The issue is not perfect, but the process is broken and in need of repair.
The current map-drawing process allows the majority party to draw the maps, which are updated every decade following the census. But the system now only provides for token minority party input, which means the districts too often become disjointed or gerrymandered in favor of the majority party.
The proposal would require a more significant level of bipartisan support in order to be used for 10 years. It would also be a more transparent process and would limit the number of splits in counties, cities and townships. Districts would be more compact.
Most voters need a good reason to vote. By creating more competitive, fairer districts more people may be inclined to run for office, creating competition for offices that are otherwise handed to the incumbent, regardless of party. More people may turn out to vote, as well.
Elections can seem rigged in Ohio because of gerrymandered districts. Voters may stay home if they don’t believe their vote matters.
Map drawing has been used by both Republicans and Democrats over the years to create safe districts for the majority party. Both parties have been reluctant to change the redistricting process because of the belief “they” will get to control it. It’s hard to give up control once you have it.
But Issue 1 shouldn’t be about changing a procedure that will favor one party or the other, as much as about creating better, more competitive elections for all.
Polls have shown strong support for changing how maps are drawn in Ohio. Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the legislation leading to Issue 1 in the House (83-10) and the Senate (31-0). There has been relatively little opposition to Issue 1.
But voters still must weigh in if Ohio is going to move forward. We would encourage Republicans, Democrats and independents to vote “yes.” It would be a good step for the state, regardless of your politics.