Ohioans might not realize it yet, but Issue 2 could be the most important item on the ballot in 2012. If voters approve Issue 2, it would place redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens commission. Currently, elected officials handle the redistricting process, and they have used it time and time again for politically advantageous ways.
Take the First Congressional District, which contains Cincinnati. It was redrawn by the Republican-controlled process to include less of Cincinnati’s urban and suburban core and now actually includes Warren County. If that seems inexplicable, it’s because the only real explanation is political. Warren County contains more rural voters, and they tend to vote Republican. Cincinnati also contains more urban voters, and they tend to go Democrat. Throw in a Florida-esque slice of Cincinnati’s wealthiest, most pro-GOP neighborhoods, including Indian Hill and Madeira, and no wonder Republicans redrew the district in such a twisted way.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans have come out against Issue 2. For them, there’s no reason not to support the status quo. With the way the First Congressional District is drawn, there is little chance Rep. Steve Chabot can lose his seat in the U.S. Congress. (Republicans probably remember all too well Chabot lost his seat in 2008 to Steve Driehaus; he only reclaimed it in the 2010 election.) Plus, with the way the districts were redrawn in northern Ohio, Republicans managed to oust Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who had been in office since 1997.
In their opposition, Republicans have touted some dishonest claims. In fact, the claims were so dishonest that Republicans admit they were misleading and agreed to stop using them. Everyone from PolitiFact Ohio to the Ohio Elections Commission has told Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and the Republican Party that their claims are not true. The commission will not have a “blank paycheck,” and commissioners will not be able to take bribes without punishments. Those Republican claims are outrageously false.
Districts should not be mutilated for political gain. Districts should be redrawn to reflect population trends and focused constituencies.