LIMA — Ohio Issue 1 will put an end to gerrymandering by implementing bipartisan map redistricting, according to the Ohio Secretary of State website. While some individuals believe that this amendment will better unite the community, others believe it will further the agenda of the majority party.
Issue 1 was proposed by the Joint Resolution of the General Assembly in hopes of amending the version of Section 1 of Article XI, The Ohio Bipartisan Redistricting Commission Amendment.
The bill would ensure a transparent process through public hearings, public submissions of proposed plans, and will require the General Assembly or the Ohio Redistricting Commission to utilize new congressional districts with a bipartisan vote, according to the Secretary of State Issue.
Similar to the current map, it would be redrawn every 10 years, unless the two political parties do not agree. If there is not a consensus, the map will be redrawn every four years. If the amendment passes on May 8, the the new rules would go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.
One of the four preparers of Issue 1, State Sen. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), wants to amend the bill because the current one allows the majority political party to draw the maps with little input from the minority party.
“The minority has some influence, but it’s not really clear what that is,” said Huffman. “It often makes it difficult to govern when you have a district that runs across the state. You have people who don’t identify with their congressional representative because that person lives so far away or the does not have anything in common with community.”
The amendment would allow the minority party to have some influence regarding the drawing of the districts by implementing several voting stages to ensure that the process is fair.
During the first stage, 50 percent of both the minority and majority party will have to agree on the map. If the two parties can not come to a consensus then the redistricting commissioner will assist them with making the decision.
The reason why this amendment is so important to Huffman is it will be the first of its kind in the United States and could be a catalyst for other states.
“If this is approved by the voters then we will have a template for having this pass throughout the United States. I think it’s a better way of doing it because it preserves the state legislatures and deals with a lot of the regular issues that come in,” he said.
Candy Newland, President of the League of Women Voters of the Lima Area, believes that voters should vote for the amendment because it has a bipartisan support.
“It is important to individuals that our vote counts and we want a system that is democratic,” said Newland. “It will ensure that our vote is significant and will allow us to elect the person that we feel is best for job,” said Newland.
The League of Women Voters has been working on eliminating gerrymandering for several years.
“The League of Women Voters does not support anything until great depth of studies have been done,” said Newland. “Once we take a stand on an issue you can rest assured that there has been great research and it’s in the best interest of the American people.”
The American Civil Liberties Union-Ohio likes the requirements put in place by the proposed amendment; however, the organization is concerned that it will devolve into a situation where the redistricting could be controlled by a single party.
Mike Brickner, ACLU Ohio Senior Policy Director, explained if the parties did not agree on a congressional map, it would go the redistricting commission. If that process is not successful, the vote would go to the general assembly, which could ultimately pass a map that would be in the interest of the majority party.
“Our concern is that if you are the majority party, what is the incentive to now allow the process to devolve to that final stage where you can simply draw a map that greatly benefits you?” Brickner said. “We believe that it does not go far enough. It does not have some improvements, but that’s why we kept our endorsement from it.”
Jim Bode, left, Beth Sutton-Ramspeck and Teresa Heath hold signs for a honk and wave for Issue 1 in downtown Lima on Friday.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews