Ohio passed Issue 1 on Tuesday with a resounding 71% of the vote. As we had previously discussed, this issue called for reform in the way voting districts are drawn for state races and had broad bipartisan support. In the wake of this victory for redistricting reform, Cleveland.com reports on the likelihood that a similar measure might pass for redrawing U.S. congressional districts in Ohio. According to the article, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted is in favor of reform and attributes dysfunction in Congress to "partisan gerrymandering."
Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley) and Senator Tom Sawyer (D-Akron) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 2 in July. The legislation is similar to the plan implemented by Issue 1, but would apply to congressional redistricting. It is currently pending in the Government Oversight and Reform committee of the Ohio Senate. The lawmakers introduced the legislation following the Supreme Court's decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in June, in which the SCOTUS upheld the state's ability to create an independent commission to redistrict congressional districts. As we discussed back in July, Rep. John Boehner had previously requested that legislators wait for the Arizona decision before addressing congressional redistricting.
According to the Cleveland.com article, while there has been increased support for change, it is not a done deal. While the U.S. reps that represent the districts as they're currently drawn do not have the final say in reform, they do have significant influence over state lawmakers. Many may be hesitant to support redistricting for fear of losing their seats when districts are redrawn. Husted predicts that hesitance in the Ohio General Assembly could lead reform activists to attempt to put their own constitutional amendment on the Ohio ballot, which may force lawmakers to come up with a plan on their own terms.
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