FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2016
Contact: Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio 614-579-5509
Redistricting Expert & Ohio Advocates Call for End to Gerrymandering
COLUMBUS— Redistricting reform expert Michael Li of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University highlighted the national significance of last year’s state legislative redistricting reform measure. Advocates from the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition urged state legislative leaders to complete the reforms by fixing the Congressional map.
“All over the country voters are struggling to address unfair redistricting processes that manipulate districts and lead to predictable elections and unaccountable elected officials,” said Li. “When Ohio passed redistricting reform in 2015, it helped build national momentum for reform, and it can play a similar role with reform of congressional redistricting.”
Ohio voters gave overwhelming support last year to State Issue 1, which prohibits gerrymandering of state legislative district lines. It established new rules that keep communities together and established the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission.
“The idea of democracy is built on the notion of representative government. Gerrymandering or rigged congressional districts take power from the people,” said Pierrette Talley, Convener of the Ohio Unity Coalition. “In 2015, over 71% percent of Ohioans voted to change the Ohio Constitution because they wanted fair state legislative redistricting and fair elections. It is only common sense that congressional redistricting and elections should be fair as well”.
Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio echoed this sentiment, “What’s good for the Statehouse is good for congress. Let’s fix congressional gerrymandering now. It’s time to focus on what’s best for the voters.”
Congress wasn’t included in the legislative proposal that became 2015’s Issue 1. State legislative leaders asserted that they wanted to wait for a US Supreme Court decision affecting redistricting, Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The court case is over. It is constitutional to use a commission to craft congressional and state legislative districts.
“The National Council of Jewish Women's 5000 plus members in Ohio strongly believe that one person, one vote and fair elections are fundamental to democracy,” said Susan Reis, National Council of Jewish Women-Cleveland Section. “Congressional redistricting reform is desperately needed to make this happen.”
President Barack Obama highlighted the need to tackle gerrymandering in this year’s State of the Union and Governor John Kasich aptly described gerrymandering as belonging in the “dust bin of history” in the State of the State.
All five statewide elected officials support congressional redistricting reform. Former Governors Bob Taft and George Voinovich have also lent their efforts to end congressional gerrymandering.
“Ohio voters spoke loud and clear in 2015,” said Camille Wimbish of Ohio Voice. “It’s time for the legislature to get to work and pass congressional redistricting reform.”
Two proposals that mirror the Issue 1 proposal have been introduced:
Senate Joint Resolution 2 sponsored by state Senators Frank LaRose (R-Copley) and Tom Sawyer (D-Akron), and
House Joint Resolution 2 sponsored by state Representatives Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Mike Curtin (D-Columbus).
The Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission’s Legislative Branch and Executive Branch Committee has been considering redistricting reform proposal since 2011. At the last meeting on April 14, Chair Fred Mills established no deadline for advancing proposed reforms.
Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition
American Association of University Women Ohio
Applied Information Resources
Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio
Columbus Chapter Alumnae of Delta Sigma Theta
Common Cause Ohio
Fair Elections Legal Network
Faith Coalition for the Common Good
Faith in Public Life
Independent Lines Advocacy
League of Women Voters of Ohio
National Council of Jewish Women—Cleveland Section
National Council of Jewish Women—Columbus Section
No Labels Ohio
Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates
Nuns on the Bus Ohio
Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence
Ohio Council of Churches
Ohio Environmental Council
Ohio Farmers Union
Ohio Student Association
Ohio Unity Coalition
Ohio Voter Rights Coalition
Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio
Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition Briefing
Who: Redistricting reform expert Michael Li from the Brennan Center for Justice
at New York University
What: An overview of redistricting reform efforts in US and how Ohio fits into the
Where: Sheraton on Capitol Square in the 1st Floor Senate Room, 75 East State
Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215
When: Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 1:30pm
Contact: Call Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio at 614-579-5509
Governor Kasich in “State of the State” Address Calls on Legislature to pass Congressional redistricting reform – Now it’s time for us to call them too!
,by Carrie Davis, League of Women Voters of Ohio
Governor John Kasich, in his April 6, 2016, “State of the State” address, called on the Ohio Legislature to relegate gerrymandering to “the dustbin of history.” Kasich praised last year's passage of Issue 1 to reform redistricting for the state legislature, and he urged the General Assembly to stop stalling and finish the job by passing redistricting reform for Congress.
We agree. Please call your State Representative and Senator today!
Tell your state Representative and Senator you agree with the governor that it's time to send gerrymandering to the dustbin of history and urge the legislature to finish the job by placing Congressional redistricting reform on the ballot this year.
Click here to look up your state Representative and Senator.
The Legislature has two different bills already introduced to extend Issue 1’s reforms to Congressional districts – SJR 2 (LaRose, Sawyer) and HJR 2 (Clyde, Curtin). The Legislative and Executive Branch Committee of the Constitutional Modernization Commission has also been working the last few months on revised language that could be ready for the Legislature to pass this spring.
It’s time for the Legislature to stop stalling and pass a Congressional redistricting reform plan to go before voters on this year’s ballot. Please call your state legislators today, and then share this alert with a friend and ask them to call too.
Together, we can put a stop to gerrymandering. Thank you for taking action.
By Catherine Turcer, Policy Analyst Common Cause Ohio
Today the U.S. Supreme Court in Evenwel v. Abbott voted unanimously (8-0) to allow states to continue to count total population when drawing state legislative districts after each census. The plaintiffs sought an unprecedented change to the U.S. Constitution forbidding states from using census counts of total population and requiring them to draw districts with equal number of voters. The cities of Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo joined 15 other counties and cities across the country to oppose this change.
Background: The Supreme Court voted 8-0 today in Evenwel v. Abbott to allow – but not require – states to count every resident when reshaping state legislative districts after each census. The plaintiffs urged the court to declare that the U.S. Constitution requires that states fashion districts based on their number of voters, a change which would have left communities with large concentrations of non-voters – such as the young and non-citizen residents - severely underrepresented in state legislatures. Taxpayer dollars for things like schools and roads now flow to districts based on their total population, not just their eligible-to-vote counts; if districts were drawn based only on eligible voters, millions of lawful permanent residents and everyone under age 18 could be left out. That means that vital public services used by everyone – like schools, fire and police protection, and roads – would be spread unevenly, with the largest share of money going to areas with a higher voting age population.
Michael Li and Eric Petry from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University wrote a compelling explanation of how this court battle could have dramatically change redistricting.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a fundamental constitutional value that every person counts--not just voters. Ohioans will need to turn our attention to the newly created Ohio Redistricting Commission and monitor any efforts to deprive millions of young people, non-citizen residents, and other non-voters of those constitutional protections. We the People means everyone who lives within a district is a constituent, not just those who vote. We don’t deny a child police protection because they are not registered to vote, so why would we deny fair representation in the General Assembly based on who is registered and who is not?”
The opinion written by Justice Ruth Ginsberg is available here.