Compactness & keeping communities whole – Ohio’s districts have been described as resembling a shattered mirror, with oddly-shaped districts that stretch in all directions. Traditional geographic boundaries such as counties and cities are routinely carved into numerous districts, splitting communities. Summit County (the Akron area), for example, is carved into four different Congressional districts, which is anti-mathematical given that Ohio has 88 counties and only 16 US House districts. Districts may stretch for miles into numerous fall-away areas that have little if anything in common. For example, district 9, nicknamed “the snake along the lake” stretches from Toledo to Cleveland along Lake Erie, at one point connected only by a bridge across the water.
Representational Fairness – Districts were drawn to artificially favor or disfavor a party utilizing the tactics of packing and cracking. Although the total number of votes cast for each major party is consistently close in this battleground state, the party that drew the maps won 75% of the seats (12 of 16) even though they only got roughly 50-60% of the votes. The party favored by the districts won 100% of the time in 2012 and 2014, and that trend is expected to continue. The result is that the real election occurs during the primary, not the general, for the party favored by the district. This tends to yield candidates that appeal to party extremes rather than the electorate as a whole.
Transparency & Public Accountability– The current districts were drawn almost entirely behind closed doors by a team of paid political operatives at the direction of their political party leadership. See The Elephant in the Room for a full report, but the highlights include drawing districts in a downtown Columbus hotel room that they called “The Bunker”, then-US Speaker Boehner calling the shots, districts being redrawn to include powerful party donors and pitting minority party incumbents against one another. A few public hearings were held for general comment, and then maps were later announced with no meaningful opportunity for public feedback.