On May 8, Ohio voters will decide on major changes to how Ohio draws district lines for members of Congress.
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.
State Issue 1 is somewhat confusing. The proposal sets up a three-step process:
* The General Assembly may approve a 10-year map if it three-fifths majority in both the House and Senate agree, along with 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 be 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.
The proposed constitutional amendment won support from Fair Districts = Fair Elections, a coalition of some 30 groups seeking redistricting reform.
What’s the current system?
Currently, the political party that controls the General Assembly is in charge of drawing the congressional district maps every 10 years.
Minority party approval is not required. The result is maps with odd-shaped districts that are drawn to maximize the majority-party’s chances of winning the most congressional districts.
COVERING ALL SIDES
We reached out to the candidates in the local area who are on the May 8 ballot. Learn more about them and the issues in our interactive voters guide at vote.daytondailynews.com