By Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
On August 25, the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University held a forum on redistricting reform and voting rights. Columnist and journalism Professor Thomas Suddes moderated a panel which included State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, State Senator Frank LaRose and, Professor John C. Green, director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron.
Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Rep. Michael Curtin (D- Columbus) introduced a resolution to reform congressional redistricting reform in the Ohio House of Representatives. Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) have introduced a resolution in the Ohio Senate. Both of these resolutions are similar to Issue 1 of 2015 which instituted state legislative redistricting reform. Despite the overwhelming support for state legislative redistricting reform last fall, neither of these resolutions have received a hearing.
Professor Suddes kicked off the discussion with a history lesson about the original gerrymander. Rep. Clyde noted that, “We are in a time of incredible polarization” and tied congressional gridlock to gerrymandering. She also highlighted the need for voter education because of the passage of state legislative redistricting reform, “There’s some confusion out there. Some voters think we’ve already taken care of this.”
Professor John Green described gerrymandering as “nothing new” but “it’s become a much more pressing issue.” According to Green, computerized mapmaking as led to even more hyper-partisan districts, “With computers we can draw district lines with great— almost mind numbing— precision. It isn’t that Elbridge Gerry wouldn’t have wanted to do that, it’s that he couldn’t.”
He identified congressional redistricting reform as likely, “I think that we may have reached one of those points where men and women of good will, of very different political ideologies, none the less, agree that the problem has become very severe. And the time has come to have reform.”
Senator LaRose recommended that the audience “evangelize” about the need for congressional redistricting reform and said, “We have to start with why it matters. Your neighbor or John Q. Public, the person you see at work or wherever else— they may not know why it matters…. The way that the districts are drawn causes polarization and dysfunction… all kinds of problems in state and federal legislative bodies.”
He called out members of Congress, “There are really 16 people who are most opposed to changing this process,” and identified why he himself cares about gerrymandering, “I would rather be part of a party that wins elections based on the quality of our ideas and the quality of our candidates, and not win elections by rigging the system.”
He also reminded the audience that both political parties have engaged in gerrymandering.
Based on legislative inaction, Rep. Clyde shared support for bringing congressional redistricting reform directly to voters or a citizens’ initiative or putting the issue before the voters through signature-gathering. Professor Green described the current political season as “very busy” but “next year—no matter what happens—2017 offers a real opportunity.”
Learn More about Redistricting at Event on October 7
David Daley, the author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, will explain why the most recent gerrymander was different from any in modern political history. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland, this free opportunity to meet the author, will be at 7:00pm at the Westshore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River, Ohio 44116, on Friday, October 7, 2016.
Join us for a Virtual Lobby Day for Congressional Redistricting Reform, Thursday, August 18. On that day individuals and organizations from across Ohio will join the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition to “gather” online in a coordinated email and social media campaign to urge the General Assembly to pass congressional redistricting reform.
What will we do on Virtual Lobby Day for Congressional Redistricting Reform?
Last November, Ohioans overwhelmingly supported state legislative redistricting reform. Issue 1 of 2015 passed by more than 71% and won in all 88 counties.
Congressional redistricting reform is supported by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and was included in both President Obama's State of the Union this year and by Governor John Kasich in the State of the State.
Last year State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Rep. Michael Curtin (D- Columbus) introduced a resolution to reform congressional redistricting reform in the Ohio House of Representatives. State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) have introduced a resolution in the Ohio Senate. Unfortunately, neither of these resolutions have received a hearing.
Speaker of the Ohio House Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) has described state legislative and congressional redistricting reform as "apples to oranges." He has also suggested that Ohioans should wait until after the next redistricting in 2021 to see how Issue 1 of 2015 works.
Let's encourage Speaker Rosenberger to put congressional redistricting reform on the November 2017 ballot. We deserve fair districts and elections now.
Sample posts to share on social media:
If you have any questions or want to help with Virtual Lobby Day, please call Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio at 614-441-9145 and send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forum on Redistricting and Voting Rights in Ohio
Thomas Suddes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group
and the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at
Ohio University will moderate a panel at 7:00pm on
Thursday, August 25 that will examine the need
congressional redistricting reform.
Thursday, August 25, 2016
Case Western Reserve University Siegal Facility
26500 Shaker Boulevard
Beachwood, Ohio 44122
State Rep. Kathleen Clyde
State Senator Frank LaRose
Professor John C. Green, director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics at the University of Akron
Ohio has been working on addressing gerrymandering, or the manipulation of legislative districts for partisan advantage, for many years. Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) and Rep. Michael Curtin (D- Columbus) introduced a resolution to reform congressional redistricting reform in the Ohio House of Representatives. Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) and Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) have introduced a resolution in the Ohio Senate. Despite the overwhelming support for state legislative redistricting reform last fall, neither of these resolutions have received a hearing.
This free event is co-sponsored by:
Case Western Reserve University Siegal Lifelong Learning Program
League of Women Voters—Greater Cleveland
Plain Dealer plus Lakewood and Cuyahoga County Library Systems
Corporate sponsor: First Interstate Properties, Ltd.
Want more information? Send an email to email@example.com or call Felicia Westbrooks at 516-368-2090.