gerrymandering

Ohio ordered to get rid of gerrymandered districts before 2020 election

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Ohio’s congressional districts – including those shaped like a “snake by the lake” and another like a duck – were found unconstitutional Friday by a federal court. State leaders, who were already planning to work on redistricting after the 2020 U.S. Census, have now been ordered to draw new districts by June 14 so they are in place for the 2020 election. “I think this is really good news for the voters of Ohio,” Mike Zickar, head of the Wood County Democratic Party, said late Friday afternoon. “Now we won’t have districts that are preordained.” A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati ruled unanimously that the congressional district boundaries were manipulated for partisan gain by Republican mapmakers and violates voters’ rights to democratically select their representatives. The ruling blocks Ohio from holding another election under the current map. But Republican leaders aren’t planning to let the ruling go unchallenged. Also on Friday afternoon, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said an appeal will be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. “Ohioans already voted to reform how we draw our congressional maps,” Yost wrote in a press release. “This protracted opinion takes that decision out of the hands of the people and is a fundamentally political act that has no basis whatsoever in the Constitution. Ohio will seek a stay of this decision and appeal it.” However, citizens who have been pushing for years for fair congressional districts welcome the federal court order that could clean up the boundaries before the next members of congress are elected. “I think it’s extremely important,” said Joan Callecod, of Bowling Green, who worked with the local League of Women Voters to get the district lines redrawn. “It would be for more fair elections.” Callecod and others collected signatures to get the issue put on the statewide ballot last year. The majority of Ohioans voted in agreement that the districts needed to be changed. Congressional districts in red elected Republicans, and blue elected Democrats. Some of the testimony that convinced the federal court this week included the results of the 2018 general election. Congressional Democrats nationwide had a good year in 2018, gaining 40 seats. However, in Ohio Republican congressional candidates…


League of Women Voters lists those who endorse Issue 1

The League of Women Voters has released the following list of those who have endorsed issue 1to address how U.S. Congressional Districts are drawn in Ohio. Lynn Ackerson Roger & Betty Jean Anderson Jan & Carol Bell Dolores Black Peggy & Don Boren Ann Bowers John & Alice Calderonello Bob & Joan Callecod Meg & Roman Carek Steve Cernkovich Pamela Chibucos Todd Childers Dan & Karen Cota Mikaela Couch Chris & Ellen Dalton Dick Edwards Katelyn Elliot Martha & Mike Fether Maria Fong Karen Glassford Beatrice Guenther Milt & Lee Hakel Drew Hanna Linda Hanna Leatra Harper Michelle Holley Geoff & Christen Howes Elayne & Joe Jacoby Jennifer Joseph Andrew Kalmar Jennifer Karches Joyce Kepke Claude & Earlene Kilpatrick Judy Knox Bob Kreienkamp Randye Kreischer David Kuebeck Jeanne & Steve Langendorfer Betty Laukauf Neocles Leontis Lee McLaird Bob McOmber Jennifer McVeigh John Mekus Lee & Marge Meserve Jan Mielsen Judy Miller Barbara Moses Joanne & Leo Navin Eugene Naherny Deb Newlove Barb & Tom O’Brien Gina O’Hare Janet Parks Michael Penrod F. Scott & Diane Regan Barbara Rothrock Don & Char Scherer Kay Sergeant Coleen Smith Sherry Spears Sherlynn Smith Scott & Ginny Stewart Norma Stickler Marcia Suter Steve Vessey Andrew Vroman Bethany Waldrick Matt Webb Helene Weinberger Kelly Wicks Sandra Wicks George & Susan Winters


Ohio voters have chance to draw line on gerrymandering

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Joan Callecod doesn’t want the next map of Ohio congressional districts to be drawn up like the current lines – in a hotel room, away from the public view. Ohio’s current congressional district lines were devised in a hotel room, called “the bunker,” Callecod said Tuesday evening during a presentation on Issue 1 appearing on the May 8 ballot. Callecod, a member of the League of Women Voters in Bowling Green, explained the need for Issue 1 to pass in order to get rid of gerrymandering in Ohio’s congressional districts. Gerrymandering is the manipulation of congressional district lines to benefit one political party or the other. In the current case, since the Republicans were in control when the lines were drawn after the last U.S. Census, the GOP benefits. “In partisan gerrymandering, the legislators choose their voters. The voters don’t choose their legislators,” Callecod said. Issue 1 would require the process of drawing lines to be transparent, and require bipartisan support of the changes. The process would also limit the cases where cities, villages or townships are divided into separate congressional districts. Ohio state districts already went through redistricting reform in 2015. The issue on the May ballot covers the U.S. congressional districts for Ohio. Regardless of which party benefits from gerrymandering, the system is wrong, Callecod said. Under the present congressional lines, only 3 percent of the 435 congressional districts have truly contested elections, she said. “To me, that’s disgraceful,” Callecod said. Ohio’s current process allows the majority party to dissect counties and cities to create districts that favor the party in power. Under the existing map, drawn by Republicans in 2011, the GOP holds 12 of Ohio’s 16 seats while only winning 56 percent of the votes. Callecod is hopeful that ballot issue will be approved by Ohio voters. “We are not aware of any opposition,” she said. Here’s how the new plan would work: The General Assembly has an opportunity to draw a map, passage of which requires a three-fifths majority of each chamber, including support of at least half the minority party. Should the state legislature fail to meet these vote requirements, then the Ohio Redistricting Commission has the opportunity to pass a…


Redistricting makes May ballot – thanks to compromise

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It looked as if Ohio’s redistricting reform might be doomed to failure – with opposing sides of the issue not budging. But on Monday, a compromise was reached that satisfied both political parties plus the League of Women Voters and other citizen groups which had been pushing hard for reform. Ohio Senate Majority Leader Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, called the unanimous Senate passage of Ohio Congressional Redistricting Reform “pretty remarkable.” The compromise, he said, should help restore public confidence that state legislators can tackle controversial issues in a bipartisan way. “This historic, bipartisan vote is yet another example how state legislators in Columbus find ways to work together,” Gardner said. This afternoon, the Ohio House voted to support the bill. The compromise was reached just in time, since the deadline to get an issue on the primary election ballot is this Wednesday at 4 p.m. The proposed plan keeps the legislature in charge of drawing congressional district maps, but adds additional steps requiring minority party support to put a map in place for 10 years. Ohio’s current process allows the majority party to dissect counties and cities to create districts that favor the party in power. Under the current map, drawn by Republicans in 2011, the GOP holds 12 of Ohio’s 16 seats while only winning 56 percent of the votes. The plan establishes, for the first time, criteria for limiting the number of times counties, cities, villages and townships can be divided into multiple districts. Monday night the Senate voted 31-0 for a Senate resolution that would place the proposed constitutional amendment on the May primary ballot.  Gardner referred to the effort as a “major breakthrough.” Joan Callecod, a member of the Bowling Green League of Women Voters, was excited to hear about the compromise in the Senate. “It looks promising,” she said. “It’s a positive thing, anytime there is compromise.” The Bowling Green League of Women Voters has been advocating redistricting reform. Local members have been collecting petition signatures for a project called “Fair Districts = Fair Elections,” a non-partisan effort to place a redistricting amendment on the November 2018 ballot across the state. The ultimate goal was to get congressional district lines drawn so…


Petition against gerrymandering is taken to the streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The League of Women Voters wants to make it as easy as possible for voters to take a stand against gerrymandering. So on Saturday, the organization set up drive-thru petition signing locations across the region – with one in the parking lot of the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green. The project called “Fair Districts = Fair Elections,” is a non-partisan effort by the Ohio League of Women Voters to place a redistricting amendment on the 2018 ballot across the state. If the petition effort is successful, Ohio voters will have an opportunity to end gerrymandering – the practice of congressional districts being drawn to favor one political party over another. Joan Callecod, of Bowling Green, said citizens don’t need to be persuaded to sign the petition. “They hear the word ‘gerrymandering,’ and they say, ‘Show me the petition,’” Callecod said Saturday as she sat outside the library with other local League of Women Voters members. To get the issue on the November 2018 ballot, 306,000 valid signatures must be collected statewide. But Callecod explained the criteria is more specific than that. At least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties must collect signatures from a minimum of 5 percent of their voters in the last gubernatorial election. In Wood County, that’s about 1,700 signatures. During the first month of volunteers collecting signatures, more than 100,000 were gathered, Callecod said. The ultimate goal is to get congressional districts lines drawn so that the elections aren’t decided even before the votes are cast. “An expanded board would have minority participation and required approval of the proposed map,” Callecod said. That proposed map would also be available for public viewing before it is approved. “We’re trying to make it more open.” Politicians from both sides of the aisle support the measure. “The way it is right now, it just intensifies the divisiveness,” Callecod said. “Under gerrymandering, instead of the voters choosing the legislators, the legislators chose their voters.” Also collecting signatures outside the library on Saturday were Char Scherer and Joyce Kepke, other League of Women Voters members. “I’d like to see fairer elections, thank you,” Scherer said. “The voters deserve the opportunity to have a fair election and…