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