By Catherine Turcer, policy analyst for Common Cause Ohio
On February 11 at the Associated Press Forum in Columbus, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted highlighted his decade long quest for redistricting reform and the importance of competitive elections, “I don’t want to win because the rules were rigged. We want to win because we have better candidates with better ideas that are focused on solving the problems of all Ohioans.”
Secretary Husted noted that Issue 1 was overwhelmingly supported by voters last November and urged voters to embrace congressional redistricting reform the way that they did state legislative reform. He also noted, “I think it’s always easier to take it up sooner rather than later.”
Attorney General Mike DeWine, Treasurer Josh Mandel and State Auditor Dave Yost concurred.
Yost added, “If there were redistricting reform on the ballot, I would vote for it.”
But our legislative leaders are a slightly different story.
While Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni heartily endorsed congressional redistricting reform, Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger has some reservations, “Some folks have reported that I am looking to be too slow to act on this.”
He described state legislative and congressional redistricting as “apples and oranges.” But noted that he is ready to start a conversation about the process of map-making and described himself as “all ears.”
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber shared his opposition to a bipartisan redistricting commission like the one established by the passage of Issue 1 drawing congressional district lines because it’s “a divestiture of state legislative authority.”
The state legislature is currently responsible for making congressional district maps. President Faber may say that he opposes taking map-making away from the legislature but the legislature is dominated by one political party. It’s time for bipartisan map-making and fair rules. President Faber’s concern about “a divestiture of state legislative authority” seems even odder when one considers that in 2021, the Ohio Redistricting Commission that is tasked with state legislative map-making, includes four legislative members or appointees (2 Democrats and 2 Republicans). The Ohio Senate President will have the opportunity to appoint one member of the Commission.
Faber did note a willingness to look at the process of drawing congressional districts or the factors to consider in map-making. He identified contiguity and compactness as criteria that he favors and would be willing to consider.
Senate President Faber suggested that while uninterested in changing who draws the congressional districts, he is open to considering an advisory commission.
Together we can encourage the state legislature to get to work. Urge Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger to fix gerrymandering of Congressional districts and not stand in the way of more robust, fair elections.
Here is what you can do right now to make your voice heard: