Issue 1, which would make major changes to how Ohio draws district lines for members of Congress easily passed in Tuesday’s election.
The issue, put on the ballot by the General Assembly by a bi-partisan vote of 83-10 in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate, is supposed to create a fairer process.
After every census, Ohio lawmakers change the state’s congressional lines based on population shifts. Currently Ohio has 16 members of Congress. However, despite being a swing state in presidential elections, the state’s congressional delegation is lopsided toward Republicans. Currently 12 of the seats are held by Republicans and four by Democrats.
The kicker is that most of the districts are also not considered competitive either way.
Currently, the General Assembly is in charge of drawing the congressional district maps every 10 years, which in practice gives the majority party control over the process.
State Issue 1 is somewhat confusing. The proposal sets up a three-step process:
* The General Assembly may approve a 10-year map if a three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate agree, including at least half of the members of the minority and majority parties. It would require the governor’s signature.
* If the Legislature fails to adopt a map, the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission would take over. It may pass a 10-year map if it has at least four votes, including two from the minority party.
* If the commission fails to act, the responsibility returns to the Legislature, which can pass a 10-year map with three-fifths majority vote, including one-third of the minority party members. It would require the governor’s signature.
If the three steps don’t result in a 10-year map, the majority party controlling the Legislature may adopt a four-year map, providing it follows guardrails to protect against unduly favoring a political party or incumbents and against splitting up counties into multiple congressional districts.