State lawmakers plan to take another run at changing how Ohio’s congressional districts are carved out — a politically charged issue that has eluded reform for years.
Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, said this week that legislative leaders will announce details on a congressional redistricting study group this week.
“Regardless of which side of the aisle you fall on, it’s worth airing out that discussion and seeing if we think there is a better process than what we have now,” Obhof said. “I’ve expressed some concerns in the past and I maintain those that any time you’re chipping away at something that has traditionally been a responsibility of the Legislature you should be cautious about that but I think there is plenty of room for us to have discussions and have meaningful opportunity for reform in the coming months.”
Obhof said the goal is to get recommendations by the end of the year and introduce a reform bill by early next year.
In June, Fair Districts Fair Elections, a grassroots campaign for redistricting, got the go-ahead to collect 302,591 valid signatures from registered Ohio voters to place a constitutional amendment before voters in November 2018.
States redraw both legislative and congressional districts every 10-years based on the latest U.S. Census data.
In 2015, Ohio voters approved an amendment reforming how state legislative districts are drawn. Ohio has used a winner-take-all system. The political party that controls three of five seats on the Ohio Apportionment Board has been in control of drawing legislative district maps. Since 1991, the Republicans have held control.
The General Assembly, in turn, draws the congressional district maps. The result has been lopsided, gerrymandered districts that are drawn to favor one party over another.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted have both advocated for changes that would usher in a more fair system.