What is Gerrymandering?
Gerrymandering essentially allows the ruling party to "pick" their voters by drawing districts that have more voters of their own party even though there may be fewer supporters of that party overall.
And while no party likes it when the opposing party uses the tactic to win, for over two centuries, legislatures across the nation have refused to make gerrymandering against the rules of district mapping because cheating voters out of accurate representation gives parties a better chance of winning again, while playing fair risks losing power in the next election.
Gerrymandering in Ohio
Ohio has some of the most gerrymandered districts in the country. Several counties which are populated enough to have their own representative in Washington are split into multiple districts leaving them without a single rep from their own county.
Ross county is one such area; split into two different districts, neither of our TWO reps actually lives here. This means they aren't always in touch with the concerns that OUR county faces. And since their districts are spread across a wide variety of places, they often end up having to divide their focus across an equally wide variety of problems so that not all communities get the attention they deserve.
The League of Women Voters has been tirelessly working for over 40 years to end partisan gerrymandering in Ohio. In 2015, an Issue was placed on the November ballot to change the way STATE district lines were drawn so that our OHIO legislature would have representation that more accurately reflects the population of Ohio. Voters approved the ballot measure by an astounding majority of 71%.
With this victory in hand, the League then focused on the FEDERAL districts and began collecting signatures to put a measure on the 2018 ballot that would ensure our representatives in Washington D.C. are also an accurate reflection of the Ohio population. As the League neared the required number of signatures needed to put this on the November ballot, an amazing thing happened in the Ohio Legislature.
Both parties in the Statehouse came up with a bipartisan measure to end gerrymandering themselves.
The League of Women Voters of Ohio (LWVO) officially endorsed Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment to end partisan congressional gerrymandering appearing on the May 8 primary ballot. This move put the League’s full weight behind the ballot issue and advanced the organization’s decades of work at the forefront of redistricting reform efforts, most recently in the Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio campaign and negotiating the legislative deal that became Issue 1.
Issue 1 was proposed in 2018 as an amendment to the Ohio constitution to end partisan congressional gerrymandering appearing on the May 8 primary ballot.
It created a bipartisan process that strongly encourages both major parties to cooperate and agree on a congressional map that better represents the views of Ohioans. Issue 1 included greater transparency and strong rules that focus on keeping communities together and prohibitions on gerrymandering if the two political parties come to an impasse.
Here's how Issue 1 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 with a simple majority. If the process gets to the last stage not requiring minority party support, stricter rules protecting against unfair manipulation would apply.