Campaign Begins For And Against Redistricting Changes

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Advocates for redistricting reform say the state's latest congressional maps shows the system is broken.(Photo: WOSU file photo)
Advocates for redistricting reform say the state's latest congressional maps shows the system is broken.(Photo: WOSU file photo)

Now that backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to change the redistricting process have enough valid signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot, attention turns to how to sell it to voters.

The supporters of the plan already have their mantra: “People, Not Politicians.”

Now opponents of the plan have a mantra of their own: “Protect Your Vote.”

“As the weeks roll on here and people become more aware of this redistricting issue, they will find that this is very important,” says Jenny Camper, who’s working with the group opposing the redistricting changes. “It will determine whether voters are going to have accountability in their redistricting process, whether they are going to have an ethical redistricting process.”

Camper says opponents of the plan will talk about its flaws. She says the plan leaves the legislature holding the bag to pay for the costs of the process…something that could prove to be expensive. And she says it replaces elected officials with a board over which citizens have no control.

“It moves Ohio’s redistricting from a system of accountability to a system with really little or no accountability.”

But Catherine Turcer, a supporter of Voter’s First, the group that’s backing this proposed constitutional amendment, says she’s not surprised that Republicans who are in charge of the process right now are going to fight the plan she’s pushing.

“We are in a winner takes all system and that means whoever is in charge draws the lines to benefit themselves and their friends. What we want to do is create a system where independents, Republicans and Democrats all have a voice.”

Turcer says there diversity of the commission insures that no one political party can control the process.

“What we are talking about is an incredible systemic reform that takes the power away from those people who drew the lines, who rigged the district lines and in effect, rigged our elections.”

As far as accountability, Turcer says the lines for the current maps were drawn by Republican operatives in a secret location in a Columbus hotel. And she notes thousands of dollars went into fees for those operatives and that hotel room. Turcer says the public had no input in that process until it was already completed.

The state’s ballot board will meet next week to consider the language that will appear on ballots.

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