The well-funded organization We Are Ohio announced Monday that it will be taking up redistricting laws as its next major battle.
We Are Ohio is already known for leading the charge against the state legislature’s attempts to weaken collective bargaining among public employees with Senate Bill 5 and lower the window of time to vote with House Bill 194 and now Senate Bill 295.
The organization announced it would be backing Ohio Voters First, a group aiming to take down politicized redistricting.
Ohio Voters First is currently trying to get enough signatures to put an amendment on the November ballot that would place redistricting powers in the hands of an independent citizens commission.
Redistricting is a process in which the state legislature redraws district boundaries. Originally, redistricting was meant to be used so states and districts could keep up with shifting populations. It is typically done every 10 years in response to the national census.
However, politicians were quick to hijack the process. In what is known as “gerrymandering,” politicians redraw district boundaries in a way that gives them or their political parties favorable demographics and places in terms of getting elected.
Redistricting cost Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland his congressional seat this year. When Republicans redrew the district map in Ohio in response to the 2010 census, they did so in a way that pit Kucinich against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur in a primary battle.
The primary fight was a dream come true for Republicans as two prominent liberals in Congress were forced to fight for their political lives. Kucinich lost by nearly 30 points.
Other states have already undertaken measures to safeguard against gerrymandering. California recently enacted reform that calls on an independent citizen commissions to draw up districts, and voters will be taking advantage of the nonpartisan redistricting for the first time in the June 7 primary. Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho and New Jersey also use independent or bipartisan commissions.