This new effort is urgently needed because previous attempts at reform adopted by Ohio over the past decade have failed to deliver on their promise. After voter-led efforts to improve redistricting failed in 2012reformers compromised with the Republican-dominated Legislature, which passed bipartisan amendments that voters approved in 2015 and 2018. These reforms ensured that a bipartisan commission of elected officials — with a GOP majority — would control both redistricting legislative and would also serve as a backup if lawmakers failed to pass a congressional map with bipartisan support.
However, some observers at the time disputed that the newly adopted rules were fatally flawed because they left elected officials responsible for a convoluted process that included a gaping loophole that ultimately allowed the Republican majority to pass maps without bipartisan support –exactly what happened after the last census. The new system was problematic in another way: it left enforcement of their vaguely worded anti-gerrymandering provisions to the state Supreme Court, a Republican-majority elected body.
O’Connor was the only reason the court didn’t just approve the new GOP maps, but the rulings she made with her fellow Democrats were still vulnerable to the results of future judicial elections. This is precisely why Republicans have repeatedly delayed in the face of these seven unfavorable decisions, and the procrastination has paid off.
Age limits kept O’Connor out of re-election last year, and GOP wins at the top of the standings helped Republican hardliners sweep the supreme court races in November and get a 4-3 majority on the bench. With the court no longer serving as a bulwark against gerrymandering and likely to support new gerrymanders, a different approach is needed to ensure fair maps.
In the decade since Ohio’s last citizen effort failed by a wide margin, opposition to gerrymandering has grown in prominence with voters across the country. Several other states, even conservative strongholds like Missouri and Utah,approved ballot initiatives when voters have had the opportunity to express themselves. However, just getting these measures on the ballot was a big challenge in itself. Ohio Organizers must collect at least 413,000 voter signaturesincluding an amount equivalent to 5% of the last vote for governor in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
If all goes according to plan, however, the effort could see a redistricting commission take precedence over voters in November next year. However, Republican lawmakers have recently reintroduces a constitutional amendment to raise the threshold for passing future amendments led by voters from the current simple majority to 60% instead. A main supporter of this measure, who could appear on the ballot later This year, private admission it is intended to thwart efforts to reform redistricting and protect the right to abortion.
But luckily for fair card advocates, this plan would be Also require voter approval, which is uncertain. In fact, voters in Arkansas And South Dakota just last year, he rejected similar Republican efforts to require supermajorities of voters for ballot initiatives. If reform proponents can convince voters to protect their current power of changing Ohio’s governing document and then removing redistricting power from interested politicians, Ohio might finally have much fairer maps for the first times for many decades.