Together, we are slaying the gerrymander. Due to your hard work we now have over 188,000 valid signatures with 27 counties over the 5 percent threshold. Counties that reached the threshold since December 12: Ashland, Geauga, Hardin, Knox, Morrow, Muskingum, Union, Warren and Wyandot. We need more than 305,000 valid signatures. Please keep collecting in all counties and please keep getting those petitions in.
With the weather getting colder and winter beginning in earnest, we must shift our collection strategy, but there are still plenty of opportunities to interact with more voters. Make sure you are bundling up and staying warm.
Fair Districts & Redistricting Reform in the News:
Editorials Week of December 17:
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Ohio Redistricting Reform Can Work - If the Rules Are Tight
Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com, Redistricting Repair Faces a Deadline
Week of December 24:
Dayton Daily News, Ohio Voters May Change Way Congress Lines Are Drawn
WOSU, Ohio Joins Wave of States Trying to Erase Gerrymandering
Week of December 17:
WOSU, 'Gerrymandering Is Really Bullying': Inside Ohio's Attempt to Reform Redistricting
WKSU, Ohio Is at the Center of a National Debate over Drawing Political Lines
WKSU, Ohio Voters May See Two Anti-Gerrymandering Issues on Their Ballots Next Year
WKSU, How Did Ohio's Most Liberal City End Up with Its Most Conservative Congressman?
Cleveland.com, No Ohio Gerrymandering Fix Yet and No Details on Progress- Out of Line: 2017 and Beyond
WKSU, Snakes, Ducks and Toilet Bowls: How Does Ohio Shape Its Congressional Districts?
WKSU, Summit County Has Four Congressional Districts but Not a Member of Congress to Call Its Own
Please donate online or mail a check to Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio, c/o League of Women Voters of Ohio, 100 E. Broad St., Suite 1310, Columbus, OH 43215.
2017 was a rough year but seeing so many people committed to working to create a more functional and healthy democracy continues to be truly inspiring. More than 2,700 people have turned in petitions. In 2018, we are going to end gerrymandering. Have a Happy New Year from Fair Districts Team!
Redistricting reformer Linda Magoto lives in Upper Arlington and helped design a T-shirt that asks the obvious question "What's wrong with this picture?"
Why did you choose “What's wrong with this picture?”
As a concerned voter, I want everyone to know how ridiculous our district lines have become. I wear my shirt to attract attention when I am out in front of public places to gather signatures. I encouraged many people to do the same.
It sounds like you care a lot about congressional redistricting reform?
YES!! I am passionate about getting this issue on the ballot for 2018. We must act now. Whether Republican or Democrat, it is the right thing to do. We want our representatives to listen to us.
I am tired of my representatives not listening to the voters. Frankly, they don't need to listen anymore. Their seats are secure because the district lines have been drawn to give them complete job security. That goes for both parties.
The lines are drawn to benefit the party in the majority. Our voice is totally lost unless we pass a law that requires the following:
1) A new fair process to draw Ohio congressional districts
2) Bipartisan redistricting commission
3) A halt to the secrecy of drawing the district lines
4) Finally, stop the craziness that our current district lines display. WE NEED COMPACT FAIR DISTRICTS!
Our district lines are so unfair that it is difficult to get someone to run in opposition to the current official because the deck is stacked so unfairly.
Do you have any recommendations for people who want to help get signatures to place Fair Districts on the ballot?
Taking a buddy with you makes for a more enjoyable experience, but at times it is not possible. Don't be afraid to go it alone. Currently, I am focusing on local Post Offices, senior centers and retirement homes. I am also connecting with friends in different areas of the state and putting them in touch with someone collecting signatures in their area.
Fairdistrictsohio.org gives me all the current information that I need. IT'S TIME TO COLLECT SIGNATURES!
Do you know a redistricting reformer that we should highlight? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Redistricting reformers waited for a long time to kick off the Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio campaign. Ohio voters can't be faulted for assuming that the legislature would take action after the successful passage of Issue 1 in 2015, which won by more than 71% of the vote and in all 88 counties. When the Ohio General Assembly failed to act, redistricting reformers began circulating petitions and we now have over 174,000 signatures.
After two public hearings of state legislature's Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group, legislators have reported some productive conversations. Let's make sure that those discussions continue to focus on what's best for Ohio voters, rather than what's good for those in power.
It's time to end gerrymandering and our legislators must either walk away or pass real, substantive redistricting reform.
Wondering how you can help? Host a Postcard Party! Get together with your friends and send a note to the members of the Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group. If you are interested in holding a Postcard Party, send us an email at email@example.com.
Or call or write your Statehouse representative today, to say that Ohioans deserve fair districts and fair elections:
By Jarrett Thompson, Commmon Cause Ohio
What better place to find voters than at the polls? Consider spending Election Day working to improve democracy!
Here are just a few tips:
Petition Signature Collection Reminders and Best Practices
If you are someone who texts, please text PETITION to 864237. Then please text us when you arrive at your polling location. If you have questions on Election Day, please call me Fair Districts = Fair Elections at 614-259-8388.
Petition Training on Demand. This training reviews the do's and don'ts of signature gathering. Sign up here to register and view the training at your convenience.
Redistricting FAQs on Demand. A recording that answers redistricting reformers' most frequently asked questions is now available online. Sign up here to register and view the training at your convenience.
A big thank you to all the redistricting reformers! And don't forget to vote.
Hunger Network in Ohio Director, Nick Bates, testifies on November 1 in support of bipartisan redistricting reform. Bates joins numerous other advocates calling on the state legislature to adopt a bipartisan plan to pass congressional redistricting reform. Below is a written transcipt of his testimony:
Good evening. My name is Nicholas Bates and I serve as a Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) called by the Southern Ohio Synod to serve as the Director of the Hunger Network in Ohio. The Hunger Network is an ecumenical ministry that seeks long-term solutions to hunger by addressing root causes. The Hunger Network works with the Northeast, Southern and Northwest Ohio Synods of the ELCA, the Eastern and Western Conferences of the United Methodist Church, the Ohio and Southern Ohio Diocese of the Episcopal Church, and the Central Southeast Association of the United Church of Christ.
As I finish my first full year as director of the Hunger Network, I have realized that people of faith love to be authentic about an issue, because we approach it from a position of faith and not a position of politics. Our congregations are filled with people from all political stripes and clergy appreciate the views and values that each person brings to the community.
We believe that only through authentic and honest discourse and debate can we solve some of our most pressing problems in Ohio – like infant mortality, hunger, and poverty. Most clergy that I have spoken with have voted for people in both political parties. They base their personal votes (believe it or not) on a candidate’s ability to serve the community and address the real needs that they see.
This is why we encourage you to put forward a bipartisan plan to reform congressional redistricting in Ohio. Like any good sermon, I will break it down to three main points.
Competitive districts will help us to listen to one another. As a person of faith, I am called to right relationship with my neighbor and right relationship requires us to listen to one another. Competitive districts will require candidates for office to answer difficult questions, listen to the voters, and engage their opponents in a way that doesn’t occur when seats are "safe."
Second, compact districts will encourage community. As congregations bring people together to talk about issues, we should easily know whose district we are in. At my small congregation here in Columbus, we have members from three separate congressional districts – weakening our collective voice on issues that we care about.
Finally, we need to have faith in the electoral process. Our system of democracy requires faith by the people that the process is fair. If a candidate wins or loses, we need to trust that the outcome represents the will of the people. Gerrymandering undercuts the faith needed for democracy to work.
When I preach, I wear a towel around my waist to remind me of the story of Jesus washing the feet of his Disciples – it is a story about our call to humility and service in the world. Elected officials are also servants and have a similar call to humility and service, and I believe fair and competitive districts will equip our public servants in Washington with their towel to better serve our communities.
We are calling on you today to adopt a bipartisan congressional redistricting plan that will best serve the people.
Overview of the first hearing on October 26, 2017
Overview of the second hearing on November 1, 2017
A big thank you to all the redistricting reformers! Together, we can slay the gerrymander. It's been busy! Ohioans have been collecting signatures at Halloween parties, concerts and at Early Vote. On Wednesday November 1, the Congressional Redistricting Working Group held its second public hearing.
The hearing room was packed and twenty people testified. Three people from Mercer County testified from about the importance of fair districts. Each of them were from a different congressional district!
Michael Li from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University testified that Ohio is one of the six of the worst gerrymandered states in the entire country.
Professor Ned Hill of the Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University drew laughs from the crowd describing congressional districts and testified about the problem with uncompetitive general elections:
"Drawing a set of packed and Gerrymandered legislative districts has resulted in functional disenfranchisement of unaffiliated voters and here is the looming Constitutional crisis. What has occurred in Ohio in both Congressional and state-level electoral contests is a shift in political power from general election to primaries. Today, primaries where political contests are being decided in Ohio. Left without their voices and choices are unaffiliated voters."
Mosie Welch shared her experiences "on the sidewalks of Medina County" collecting signatures. Stark County and Licking County also were well represented. Rita Kipp of the League of Women Voters of Licking County described gerrymandering as "taking the wind out of the sails of democracy."
Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio called on the Working Group to listen to the voters and support congressional redistricting reform the way they did state legislative reform:
"Some of Ohio's leading newspapers have suggested that this working group could be a ruse - an effort to convince the hard-working volunteers to stop collecting signatures and when they do, you will put forth a partisan replacement that does little to restore democracy. I urge you to prove those skeptics wrong. Ohioans should get the opportunity to vote on a proposal that would truly reform our system of designing congressional districts."
Life long Republican Don Thompson of Hilliard was even more pointed:
"It is my view that the legislative in-action - the severe lack of responsibility from within the Ohio General Assembly - has resulted in forcing many many thousands of volunteer hours to be spent collecting signatures to provide an opportunity for voters to insist on responsible congressional redistricting reform."
Cleveland.com has more on the hearing: Ohio Legislators Say Gerrymandering Needs to be Fixed but Will They Act?, November 2, 2017
Watch the hearing on the Ohio Channel.
Election Day is the perfect day to collect signatures!
We need signatures of registered voters. What better place to find voters than at the polls? Sign up to collect signatures for a few hours on Election Day.
Don't forget that we need to stay 100 feet from the polls. This is a buffer to protect voters. It is usually marked by flags. If the line to enter the polling location goes beyond the 100 feet then the buffer is extended an additional 100 feet. Questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio Release a New Report Exploring Gerrymandering and History of Reform Efforts
On Thursday, October 26, the Congressional Redistricting Working Group held its first public hearing.
This bipartisan, joint committee is composed of State Representatives Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and Senators Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). Huffman and Sykes were the co-sponsors of the state redistricting reform measure approved by voters as state Issue 1 in 2015.
The Working Group is tasked with gathering public input on congressional redistricting reform and proposing reform recommendations. The legislature is then expected to turn those reform proposals into a piece of legislation to be debated and voted on by the legislature in time to put it before voters, perhaps as soon as the May 2018 primary election.
During the Working Group’s first public forum on October 26, they heard more than two hours of testimony from witnesses, all of whom argued in favor of reform. Watch a video recording of the hearing here.
Witnesses included voter rights and Fair Districts campaign leaders and volunteers from around Ohio.
Read some of the highlights in news coverage from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Columbus Dispatch, and Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau.
On Thursday, to highlight Ohio’s very long history of gerrymandering and the many times the legislature could have enacted new, fairer rules, the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio released a new report, “Ohio’s Gerrymandering Problem: Why Haven’t We Fixed This Yet?”
The October 26 hearing room was packed with supporters of the Fair Districts campaign, many wearing Fair Districts t-shirts and buttons or carrying signs. THANK YOU for helping show legislators how much ending gerrymandering means to Ohio!
Photos taken by Jan Underwood of the League of Women Voters of Greater Dayton.
Ohio has a long history of redistricting reform with citizen-led efforts on the ballot in 1981, 2005, and 2012. In 2015, Ohioans overwhelmingly supported state legislative redistricting reform.
Many of us are familiar with the hard work of Joan Lawrence, a Republican state representative (1982 – 1999) from Galena. In light of the upcoming hearings on redistricting reform by the Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group, it is worth taking a look back at another proponent, Governor James A. Rhodes.
In a July 3, 1981 letter to Benson Wolman of the ACLU and Robert Graetz, Jr. of the Ohio Council of Churches, Governor Rhodes wrote:
"Gerrymandering is not a Republican or a Democrat problem. It is a fundamental problem with government that must be corrected."
Rhodes’ sentiment rings true and it is time to end the unfair practice of gerrymandering and focus on reforms that focus on the voters and creating a more robust democracy.
On October 26 and November 1, the Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group is holding public hearings on how best to address congressional redistricting reform. The first meeting on Thursday, October 26 is at 10:00am and the Wednesday, November 1 meeting is at 6:00pm. Both hearings will be held in Room 313.
Members of the Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group: State Senators Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Vern Sykes (D-Akron) and State Reps. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Jack Cera (D-Bellaire).
The Ohio General Assembly is finally taking up congressional redistricting! The legislature's redistricting working group has announced two dates when they will hear public testimony on congressional redistricting reform at 10:00 am on Thursday, October 26 and at 6pm on Wednesday, November 1 and we want you to be there. Both sessions are in Room 313 of the Ohio Statehouse.
Thanks to thousands of committed Fair Districts volunteers across the state collecting over 152,000 signatures, the legislature is taking Ohioans’ desire for meaningful redistricting reform seriously, forming a bipartisan working group to consider the issue. The Fair Districts coalition has always supported a legislative solution, provided it includes elements to ensure a fair and bipartisan process, but we need to be visible at these meetings to remind legislators of the will of the people they represent.
That’s why we are asking you to come to the Statehouse on Oct. 26 and Nov. 1, decked out in all your best Fair Districts shirts, buttons, bags, and spirit!
The legislature will also be hearing from members of the public about why redistricting reform is so important, and why it should feature key elements the Fair Districts = Fair elections coalition supports. If you feel strongly about this issue and can express why it matters to your community, you might be a great person to testify! Tell us about yourself and why you are committed to slaying the gerrymander and someone from the campaign may be in touch about presenting testimony, in person or in writing.
If you have questions about the legislative hearing please send an email to email@example.com or call 614-259-8388.
If you can’t make it to Columbus for either of the forums, don’t despair – you can still take action!
Fair Districts = Fair Elections! Any questions, call 614- 259-8388 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.fairdistrictsohio.org
Text DISTRICT to 864237 for redistricting updates.
By texting DISTRICT you agree to receive mobile updates from the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition. Reply with HELP for help, STOP to quit. Message & data rates may apply.
October 16, 2017
Dear Speaker Rosenberger, Minority Leader Strahorn, President Obhof, Minority Leader Yuko, and Members of the Congressional Redistricting Reform Committee:
As members of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition, we were very pleased to learn that leadership is in discussions about congressional redistricting reform. That has been our goal all along, to reach a bipartisan solution that can be put before voters.
We are writing to express our willingness and hope that we can work with you in finding a solution that serves the interest of all Ohioans.
Based on our decades of work in this area, and talking with thousands of voters across the state, we have identified the following as essential criteria for meaningful congressional reform.
We have always supported a legislative solution and continue to do so. However, we will carefully scrutinize any proposal to ensure it puts forward real reform, not just pay lip service to the problem.
We owe it to the 152,000-plus verified voters who have signed our Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio initiative and to the nearly 3,000 volunteers on the ground across Ohio working for Fair Districts, to make sure that voters have the opportunity to vote for real reform. While we are eager to work with you to reach a mutually agreeable bipartisan solution, we will continue moving forward with a citizen initiative in order to make sure reform is enacted before the next time Congressional districts are redrawn.
Carrie Davis, League of Women Voters of Ohio
Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
Heather Taylor-Miesle, Ohio Environmental Council
Jeff Cabot, Treasurer, Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio
Dowload the letter to Ohio General Assembly leadership and the Ohio Congressional Redistricting Reform Committee