Issue 1 of the May Ballot
Thanks to the collection of more than 200,000 signatures to place congressional redistricting reform on the November ballot, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed their own bipartisan plan on February 5. The Ohio House moved quickly and voted (83-10) on February 6. The resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 5 (SJR 5), establishes strong protections against one-party control of congressional redistricting reform. Voters will need to approve this proposed change to the Ohio Constitution, which will be Issue 1 on the May Primary Ballot.
The Ohio General Assembly would never have taken action if it wasn’t for the work of redistricting reformers like you. Thank you so much for all your hard work to improve democracy! A big thank you to the team of redistricting reformers who are busy organizing petitions at Petition Central.
Click here for Flyer about Issue 1
Some Talking points:
Click here for More Information on Issue 1
Signature gathering to place the Fair Districts = Fair Elections proposal on the November General Election Ballot will continue in case SJR 5/Issue 1 does not pass in May. Thank you so much for collecting signatures. Please turn in your petitions regularly.
Let’s Get Together!
On March 11 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm at the Whetstone Public Library, 3901 N. High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43214, let’s get together to talk about Issue 1 of May 2018 and the next steps for slaying the gerrymander. Sign up here.
If you have questions, suggestions or would like to organize another discussion or event, please call 614-259-8388.
Thank you for all your hard work fighting gerrymandering!
Common Cause and Fair Districts
Our efforts are paying off! After years of advocacy and months of gathering signatures for a new ballot initiative that would make the process for drawing Ohio’s congressional map more fair and less partisan, Ohioans across the state may have finally convinced the General Assembly that inaction on gerrymandering is unacceptable.
Tonight, the Ohio Senate (31-0) passed a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that meets the standards our Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition have demanded from any congressional redistricting reform proposal. We have demanded that:
Here’s how it works:
Stage One: Passage of a map requires a three-fifths vote of both the House and Senate and must include at least 50 percent support of minority party members. If that doesn’t work…
Stage Two: Ohio’s existing seven-person bipartisan redistricting commission will be empowered to draw districts and must approve a map with at least two minority party votes. If that doesn’t work…
Stage Three: The legislature gets another chance to pass either (1) a 10-year map with one-third of the minority party’s support or (2) a four-year map without minority party support. If the process gets to the last stage not requiring minority party support, stricter rules protecting against unfair manipulation would apply.
Elected officials do not give up the power to draw one-sided congressional districts on their own. This happened because of your visits, rallies, calls, and emails, and because together we have gathered more than 200,000 signatures.
We are about to make history because of your hard work. The Ohio House will vote on this proposal on Wednesday. If it’s approved, it will go to the ballot for voter approval in May. Thank you for keeping up the fight and pushing the Ohio General Assembly to do the right thing.
JANUARY 29, 2017
CONTACT: Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio, 614-579-5509
Columbus, OH -- After days of negotiations between members of the Fair Districts=Fair Elections coalition and leaders of the Ohio legislature, efforts to reach a compromise have failed. Legislative leaders have created a system that fails to minimize county splits or create a bipartisan system, leaving Ohioans across the state living in unfair congressional districts for the next decade.
“We sat for days in good faith and always said any deal must halt partisan gerrymandering and keep communities together. S.J.R. 5 does neither and completely abandons the voters,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council and one of the leaders of Fair Districts=Fair Elections. “This is simply why no one trusts politicians. We have no choice to continue onward with our ballot initiative to ensure voters across Ohio aren’t gerrymandered into districts where their elected representatives aren’t beholden to voters.”
"We are disappointed that we couldn't come together on a fair solution. The Huffman proposal simply does not address partisan gerrymandering,” said Ann Henkener with the League of Women Voters. “Any solution needs to focus on the voters and fair elections. Our ballot initiative will move Ohio to fair congressional districts, and we look forward to ramping up efforts to ensure voters have a chance to speak loudly this November."
"Voters deserve fair districts that aren't manipulated,” said Catherine Turcer, with Common Cause Ohio. “The Huffman proposal was amended but allows drawing district lines for partisan advantage and allows communities and counties to be sliced and diced. It would simply legitimize gerrymandering in the Ohio Constitution. We’re going to fight it."
The Fair Districts=Fair Elections coalition ballot initiative has thus far collected nearly 200,000 of a required 305,591 signatures to appear on the November ballot.
Voters finally have an opportunity to give the Senate feedback on their sham redistricting proposal SJR 5, which does nothing to stop partisan gerrymandering.
There will be two hearings for opposition testimony: Tuesday at 2:30 pm and Wednesday at 9:45 am (with a possible vote afterwards) in the Senate Finance Hearing Room. (room 126S on this map - easiest entry is from 3rd St, then up the stairs).
If you are willing to testify, please RSVP using this link so that we can plan accordingly. You will also need to provide Drew.Hawking@ohiosenate.gov with an electronic copy of your testimony no later than 24 hours before committee.
Let's give them an earful of why this proposal does not amount to REAL reform. Looking for inspiration? Read today's editorial the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which said the 'Blatantly skewed Ohio GOP congressional redistricting "reform" plan belongs in the trash."
Got five minutes? Call members of the Senate Committee that will be hearing this bill next week and let them know you OPPOSE SJR 5.
Chairman Bill Coley - (614) 466-8072
Vice Chair Joe Uecker [pronounced EEK-er] - (614) 466-8082
Senator Kevin Bacon - (614) 466-8064
Senator Troy Balderson - (614) 466-8076
Senator Bob Peterson - (614) 466-8156
Senator Kris Jordan - (614) 466-8086
Senator Frank LaRose - (614) 466-4823
Senator Matt Huffman - (614) 466-7584
Talking points may include:
Thank you for all that you do!
Catherine Turcer, Common Cause Ohio
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.