The Ohio Attorney General’s office announced on May 22, 2017, that it has certified a written petition it received on May 10, 2017, to amend the state’s Constitution regarding congressional redistricting. This is the first successful step to getting the proposal on the ballot for Ohio voters’ consideration of the matter.
Gerrymandering, the manipulation of voting districts in an attempt to favor one party or the other, has been done by both the Democrats and Republicans over the years, with district designations changing as the party in the majority changes. In this case, the gerrymandering involves congressional districts, those from which voters choose their elected officials to the House of Representatives.
The current effort is being led by the group Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio that seeks to end the gerrymandering of Ohio’s congressional districts once and for all in what is now planned to be up for a statewide vote in November 2018.
Ohio’s Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment Petition Background
The initiative created by the group, Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment, was first submitted to the attorney general’s office on April 24, 2017. Although the paperwork submitted at that time had the requisite 1,000 registered voter signatures, it was rejected by the AG’s office because the summary provided by the group lacked two pertinent facts from the proposed measure representing a breach of what was required for approval.
The Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio group corrected their initial errors, resubmitting the petition to the attorney general’s office on May 10, 2017.
The language of this proposed redistricting amendment is much like the Issue 1 passed by Ohio voters I 2015, with a seven-member commission of state lawmakers that will draw the state’s legislative districts do the same for the congressional districts. Approval of the map would require two votes by two minority party members. No county could be split more than once and map-makers would have to take into account the party preferences of voters over the previous 10 years in the proportion of Republican or Democrat leaning number of districts.
What Are the Next Steps to Getting the Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment Petition on a Statewide Ballot?
The certification of the initial petition by Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office on May 22 sets into motion the second step of the process, which is for the Ohio Ballot Board to determine if the amendment has one or more issues. The board has a 10-day window for making this determination.
If the amendment is determined to contain a single issue, the petitioners need to obtain at least 305,591 registered Ohio voters (representing 10 percent of the total number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial election) in 44 of the state’s 88 counties. If the amendment contains more than one issue, then the already-mentioned requirements must be met for each issue.
Ohio residents can now register to vote, check their voter registration status or change their address online if they wish, a service that became available in January 2017.
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