Ohio’s Gerrymandered Congressional Map on Trial
Testimony in wrapped up last week in APRI v. Householder, the case brought by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio against Ohio’s current gerrymandered congressional map. U.S. Rep. Marci Kaptur was one of several compelling witnesses who spoke of the anti-democratic effects of the gerrymandered map. The outcome is now in the hands of a three-judge panel who are due to rule within weeks.
Plaintiffs from all of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House districts and other impacted parties testified to how the awkward, even humorous, current map is fulfilling its contemptible purpose — to ensure that Republicans will consistently win 12 seats, no matter what election-year momentum exists for either party. -- J. Bennett Guess, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, Op-ed in the Akron Beacon-Journal/Ohio.com.
If the panel of judges rules in favor of the League and the ACLU, new congressional maps would have to the drawn ahead of elections in 2020. However, the ruling would likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Results there might well depend on what happens in two gerrymandering cases due to begin oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26.
Redistricting Cases at the Supreme Court
Next week oral arguments will begin in two landmark redistricting cases that have the potential to end gerrymandering for good. Rucho v. Common Cause is about gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly which is dominated by the GOP. Lamone v. Benisek is a challenge to a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. Here’s an article about the cases from New York Times.
Join Our Rucho Road Trip! Redistricting reformers from Ohio and around the country are heading to DC to be on the steps of the Supreme Court for Rucho and Lamone. We’d love you to join us!
We have a minivan leaving Columbus early Monday, 3/25. Other drivers are very welcome to carpool with us. If you are interested in joining us or have questions, reply to this email, call Common Cause Ohio's Mia Lewis at (765) 409-4779.
We have activities planned for Monday and Tuesday, 3/25-26, including lobbying for HR1, and hearing from members of Congress about current efforts to end gerrymandering and strengthen democracy. Learn more when you sign up at this link: Road Trip!
There’s a lot going on nationally and in Ohio with democracy reforms, and redistricting specifically.
Here’s a quick update, and an invitation.
Two Important Redistricting Cases at the US Supreme Court
On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two landmark redistricting cases that have the potential to end gerrymandering for good. Rucho v. Common Cause is about gerrymandering by the North Carolina General Assembly which is dominated by the GOP.
Lamone v. Benisek is a challenge to a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland. These two cases could potentially set a national precedent on how to draw fair maps. This could add an additional assurance that mapmaking here in Ohio after the 2020 census is fair and impartial.
Road Trip! Common Cause Ohio is organizing a road trip to Washington DC to join a major rally on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause. There are also plans to lobby our Senators on the pro-democracy bill (HR1) that just passed the House. Sign up HERE. More details at the end of this post.
Redistricting Court Case in Ohio
The constitutionality of drawing district lines to manipulate the vote is being challenged back home in Ohio as well with Ohio A. Philip Randolph v. Householder. Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, the League of Women Voters of Ohio, and a group of Ohio residents in each of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts filed suit contending that the 2011 congressional map is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. ACLU Ohio argues that the 2011 map violates both our First Amendment rights and our Fourth. The trial, which looks juicy, began on March 4 and is scheduled to continue for ten days. The witness list includes political scientists and former U.S. Speaker John Boehner.
Remember how the mapmakers called the hotel room where they drew the new districts “the bunker?” Check out the story of the 2011 gerrymander here.
Listen to a Sound of Ideas program with ACLU of Ohio’s Freda Levenson, Cleveland.com’s Rich Exner, Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer, and former Ohio Republican Party chair Matt Borges about the trial.
As you listen to this program, remember: Nothing justifies the crazy congressional map that was approved by the Ohio General Assembly in 2011. We deserve to participate in meaningful elections and the districts favor one party or the other and leave us with truly uncompetitive elections. The Voting Rights Act and the creation of one majority-minority district (Congressional District 11) cannot explain why there is a district running along Lake Erie from Toledo to Cleveland. The map precisely entrenches 12 Republican districts and 4 Democratic.
Rucho Road Trip, and In-Person Lobbying for HR1!
This month Common Cause national is planning a major democracy mobilization to support two of our top national priorities: our lawsuit to END partisan gerrymandering, and our comprehensive voting rights & democracy reform package, House Resolution 1, also called the For the People Act.
On March 26th, Common Cause members and redistricting reformers from around the country will rally outside the Supreme Court as they hear oral arguments in Rucho v. Common Cause. We will be joined by redistricting luminaries such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Members of Congress.
For those traveling from outside DC, the plan is to combine the visit to the Supreme Court with direct, in-person lobbying on House Resolution 1 and other pro-democracy reforms. This is an opportunity to talk to our Senators and encourage them to support the important voting rights and democracy reforms in the For the People Act. Sign up here by Friday, March 15.
Road trip schedule:
The next few months could be a history-making moment for our democracy -- if we gather together to take action.
Although anything is possible during Lame Duck, it looks like House Joint Resolution 19 is dead for the year. Our efforts have managed to stop this ballot-busting resolution in its tracks.
HJR19 had its sixth and final hearing Wednesday (12/12). Bill Lyons presented excellent opposing testimony in the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee, and a couple of other statements against the resolution were entered into the record. There were no questions and no discussion, and, most importantly, NO VOTE.
In all the hearings, 31 individuals and groups presented opposing testimony, and only one group argued in favor of the resolution (and he represented a group that hired paid signature collectors and hasn't done a ballot measure since 2004). Our coalition also presented the Committee with a letter signed by about 90 organizations speaking out against the resolution.
In addition there have been numerous editorials in newspapers across the state speaking out against the ballot-blocking resolution, and none that have come out solidly in favor. Here’s a sampling:
Ohio may make it harder for public to put issues on statewide ballot (Dayton Daily News)
Ohio League of Women Voters among dozens of groups opposing GOP ballot issue changes (Columbus Dispatch)
Note to lawmakers - Ohioans have a constitutional right to propose ballot issues: Thomas Suddes (Cleveland.com)
Amending The Amendment Process: Ohio May Raise Bar For Ballot Issues (WOSU)
Groups coalesce to fight Ohio legislature’s constitutional amendment plan (Cleveland.com)
Although this bad idea is likely to come back again in some form next year, we are thrilled that our joint advocacy and outspokenness against this undemocratic resolution have killed it for now.
Many thanks to the advocates who showed up to present or submitted written testimony to the committee: Kathy Deitsch, Bill Lyons, Sandy Bolzenius, Bill Davis, Mary Nordstrom, Carolyn Harding, Charlotte Owen, Jackie Bird, Melanie Majikas, Michael Ahern, Greg Pace, Deborah Cooper, Emily Lampe, Catherine LaCroix, Heather Tuck-Macalla, Carrie Eickleberry, Valerie Mason, Andrea Yagoda, Barb Fleeter, Sue Dyke, Susan Haas, Maureen Welch, and Denis Osowski. Your efforts made a difference!
Thanks to all for everything you do, and all the best of the season from Fair Districts = Fair Elections.
Thank you for all of your work to protect and strengthen our democracy!
Many thanks to the army of committed volunteers who helped pass redistricting reform in Ohio! You collected enough signatures on the Fair Districts = Fair Elections ballot initiative to force legislators to the table. And then when Issue 1 went to the ballot in May, you worked hard to make sure it would pass overwhelmingly all across the state. We won by 75% of the vote. And we won in all 88 counties!
Thanks also to the hard core dedicated volunteers who spent hours, days, weeks and months in the Columbus office scanning petitions, validating signatures, and contacting voters. Without you, we won’t have had the metrics to highlight the strong support for ending gerrymandering.
Hats off to the volunteers who joined our November Election Protection program and assisted voters at polling places all across Ohio.
Thank you to those who joined in the conversation and attended screenings of “Dark Money” or other presentations across the state.
We really appreciate the folks who spoke to the press, submitted written testimony, or attended a hearing to try to stop the ballot-initiative busting House Joint Resolution 19.
And thanks to all of you who are, like us, gearing up the fights ahead to make government accountable, protect voters and elections, and rid our system of the corrupting influence of dark money. Common Cause and our allies will be working together as always, and relying on the dedication and tenacity of our valued volunteers.
For those in the central Ohio area, please join us at a holiday gathering next week:
On Wednesday, December 12 from 4:30-6:30 pm at King Ave 5, 945 King Ave, Columbus, 43212. Light appetizers will be provided, with a cash bar. RSVP HERE!
Happy Holidays! We improved democracy for years to come in 2018. A great big thank you to you all!
Voters were clear that we all deserve fair districts and fair elections. Issue 1 won by 74.85%!
Thanks to the hard work of redistricting reformers all over the state, voters approved a historic state constitutional amendment that will institute strong protections against the congressional partisan gerrymandering.
“Ohio voters have made their voices heard and sent a clear message that they want a fair, transparent government that works for them," said Ann Henkener of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. "The approval of Issue 1 means an end to extreme partisan gerrymandering after decades of work by the League of Women Voters and countless hours of effort from committed activists. The groups behind the petition drive will be laying down our clipboards and working together to make these reforms work for Ohioans.”
In 2015, the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition worked to pass state legislative redistricting reform. Issue 1 of the May 2018 primary ballot focused on congressional redistricting reform.
“Ohioans never gave up on the fight to end the manipulation of congressional districts for political advantage and today our efforts paid off,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio. “Today, Ohio voters are the winners. I would like to thank all the redistricting reformers and activists.”
Questions? Contact Catherine Turcer at 614-579-5509.
A big thank you to all the redistricting reformers who have been working hard to get out the vote!
Please help push Issue 1 passed the finish line:
And stop by the Election Night Watch Party. 7:00pm - 11:00pm at the Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Rd, 43210. Click on the link for a parking pass to print out. Please join us so we can celebrate together!
Do you have a great photo? Please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank you to all the redistricting reformers working to pass Issue 1!
Want to help on Election Day? Please send an email to Fair Districts =Fair Elections email@example.com.
By Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
Let’s have some fun and get the word out about Issue 1! And then let’s get together and celebrate our hard work slaying the gerrymander on Election Night.
Redistricting reformers across Ohio are making calls, talking to voters, doing honk and waves, handing out yard signs, and so much more, and we are so grateful to all of you for your dedication to this campaign.
In the final week, here are the three things we need you to do:
Join a Honk and Wave: On Thursday May 3, spread the word to voters to tell them to vote Yes on Issue 1. We plan to stand at busy corners and overpasses during lunch hour with Issue 1 yard signs and signs that say "Honk if you support Redistricting Reform!" Look to see if there is an event near you, or tell us if you would like to organize or host your own. We plan to take a ton of photos and saturate social media statewide! This should be fun, and a great way to spread the word in the week before the election. Please use the hashtags #Honk4FairDistricts #YesonIssue1 #FairMaps so that your photos and events will show up in social media searches.
Talk to Voters on Election Day: We need your help on Election Day! Many voters are unaware of Issue 1, and polling is showing that this could be tight! Voters tend to vote "No" when they are unsure about a ballot issue. Your encouragement as they head into the polls could make all the difference.
Sign up to distribute flyers at a polling place near you on Election Day, May 8. Shifts are flexible. Complete the form and we will be in touch to help you find a busy polling place and make sure you have flyers to distribute. Thank you for helping us reach the finish line!
Celebrate with us: Come join us for an Election night Issue 1 watch party in Columbus! Come hang out with other redistricting reformers and celebrate all our hard work slaying the Gerrymander. Have some snacks and watch the election results come in. We have been working on redistricting reform for a very long time. Let's take a few hours to celebrate all of our efforts! The party is from 7:00pm-11:00pm at the Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Rd, Columbus, OH 43210. More details.
Thanks so much for everything you are doing, If you have any questions or have suggestions, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
A big thank you to those of you who volunteered to talk with voters on Election Day!
Polls are open from 6:30am to 7:30pm on May 8.
Guidelines for Talking to Voters about Issue 1 on Election Day
Sign up for our Election Day text service by texting PRIMARY to 864237 so that we can easily communicate on May 8. When you arrive, send a text to 864237 letting us know that you arrived with your county and polling location.
If you run into any problems, please send a text to 864237 and we will get back to you as soon as possible or call 614-259-8388.
A Few Suggestions for Election Day
Problems at the Polls? Call the Election Protection Hotline 866-OUR-VOTE.
During an election and the counting of the ballots, no person shall do any of the following:
(1) Loiter, congregate, or engage in any kind of election campaigning within the area between the polling place and the small flags of the United States placed on the thoroughfares and walkways leading to the polling place, and if the line of electors waiting to vote extends beyond those small flags, within ten feet of any elector in that line;
(4) Exhibit any ticket or ballot which the elector intends to cast;
(5) Solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any elector in casting the elector's vote.
(2) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, a journalist shall be allowed reasonable access to a polling place during an election. As used in this division, "journalist" has the same meaning as in division (B)(2) of section 2923.129 of the Revised Code.
By Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
Election Day, May 8, is less than a week away and we need your help getting the word out about Issue 1.
Educate Voters, Increase Turnout for Issue 1
Use this Facebook frame to spread awareness and show support. Print out one of these large posters to put in a car window!
Take part in our Statewide
Honk and Wave to Support Issue 1
Redistricting reformers will be out and about on Thursday, May 3, holding up signs saying, "Honk if you support Redistricting Reform!" etc. We plan to take a ton of photos and blast them out on social media. Alternate date Friday, May 4 if the weather is awful on Thursday.
Hashtags for this statewide event are: #Honk4FairDistricts #YesonIssue1 #FairMaps
Check out his Event Map to see if there are Honk and Waves or other events planned near you. And if you have one planned, please add your Honk4Fair Districts to the Event Map (at the same link).
If you want to help or help connecting with a local group, please send an email to email@example.com.
Check out and share this short video with Republican state Senator Matt Huffman and Democratic state Senator Vernon Sykes!
Interested in learning more about Issue 1? Here are some longer videos from recent events:
Ohio Ballot Beat: The Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment Issue 1 Karen Kasler moderated a panel at the City Club of Cleveland which included Ohio Senate President Larry Obhoff, Ohio Senator Minority Leader Kenny Yuko and Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio.
What is Issue 1? Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio walks through what gerrymandering is and how it impacts elections and how Issue 1 curbs gerrymandering.
Congressional Redistricting Reform Issue 1 Information Session Watch a panel discussion about Issue 1 including Athens County Democratic Chair John Hasley, state Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and Common Cause Ohio's Catherine Turcer.
Recent Editorials Supporting Issue 1:
Canton Repository, Yes for Issue 1 for Congressional Redistricting Plan, April 30, 2018
Crain's Cleveland Business, Yes on Issue 1, April 29, 2018
Kent Record-Courier, Issue 1 Deserves Your Vote, April 29, 2018
Recent Op-eds and Letters to the Editor Supporting Issue 1:
Cincinnati Enquirer, op-ed, Redistricting Proposal Unites Strange Bedfellows, April 29, 2018
Cleveland.com, op-ed. League of Women Voters Urges Yes on Issue 1 for Ohio Redistricting Reform, April 29, 2018
Dayton Daily News, commentary, Ohio Voters Get to Weigh in on Gerrymandering, April 25, 2018
Thank you for your continued help! We’re almost at the finish line. If you have any suggestions, please send Fair Districts an email or give us a phone call at 614-259-8388.