Redistricting Competition Launch

For Release - July 19, 2011

Redistricting Competition Begins Today

Columbus, Ohio – The League of Women Voters of Ohio Education Fund, the Midwest Democracy Network and Ohio Citizen Action officially launched the 2011 Ohio Redistricting Competition today.

The Redistricting Competition provides the public with the opportunity to draw district lines for the Ohio House and Senate, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives, using publicly available software and the same population and voting data that will be used by Ohio public officials. It is designed to encourage Ohioans to redraw state legislative and congressional districts that:

• Represent the interests of all Ohioans, not just the interests of political parties;
• Make determinations based on fair, objective, measurable criteria; and
• Use a process that is open and transparent.

“We challenge the Apportionment Board and the legislature to take a leadership role by doing away with politics as usual and giving serious consideration to the maps which will be generated by this competition,” urged Meg Flack, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Ohio/Education Fund.

Winning plans will be submitted to the Ohio Apportionment Board and Ohio legislature for their consideration before they establish new districts which will remain in effect for the next decade.

Anyone with a computer and internet access may participate by logging on at State legislative plans will be due by Aug. 21 and U.S. congressional plans will be due by Sept. 11.

$5,000 in cash prizes will be shared by the authors of the highest scoring plans and will include cash scholarships for the top plans created by high school and college students.

“Redistricting affects every issue important to Ohioans, because it will determine who makes our laws for the next decade,” said Jim Slagle, Manager of the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting. “Whether you are concerned about healthcare, collective bargaining, education or taxes, it all starts with redistricting,”

The Ohio Apportionment Board, which includes the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, and two members of the Legislature, is required to meet between August 1 and October 1 to establish new state legislative districts. The legislature is expected to establish Ohio’s congressional districts this fall. The new districts, which will be based on the 2010 census data, must be used for the 2012 elections.

Plans submitted during the competition will be scored using four objective criteria:

(1) Preserving County Boundaries -- measuring the number of counties which are unnecessarily split into separate districts. This helps keep communities of interest together and makes it easier for citizens to understand in which district they live.

(2) Compactness – measuring the geographical compactness of the districts. This discourages bizarrely-shaped legislative districts which unnecessarily spread voters apart.

(3) Competitiveness – measuring the number of districts which are truly competitive. This gives Ohioans a stronger voice in choosing their representatives.

(4) Representational Fairness – measuring the degree to which a plan unfairly favors one political party over another. This encourages plans in which the number of districts which favor each political party reflects the statewide political balance.

Competition Advisors: Dan Tokaji, Election Law @ Moritz at the Ohio State University; Stephen Brooks, Bliss Institute at the University of Akron; Sam Gresham, Common Cause/Ohio; Meg Flack, League of Women Voters of Ohio/Education Fund; Esmerald Hernandez, OCSEA; Jocelyn Travis, NAACP; and Kellye Pinkleton, former director of the Voting Rights Institute.

Co-sponsors of the competition include Common Cause of Ohio, Ohio Votes, Kid’s Voting Central Ohio, Progress Ohio, Ohio NOW Education and Legal Fund, No Labels, Organize Ohio, NAACP, Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action, Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, Clean Fuels Ohio, ACLU, Ohio Center for Progressive Leadership, The Cleveland Coalition, Ohio Environmental Council, Applied Information Resources, Ohio Voice, Ohio Association of Non-Profit Organizations, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, American Association of University Women, The CHANGE Agency, and America Votes - Ohio.

Media Contacts:
Jim Slagle, Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, 614-263-4600
Ann Henkener, League of Women Voters of Ohio, 614-267-9699
Catherine Turcer, Ohio Citizen Action, 614-221-6077