Redistricting

 
ENSURING THAT OUR REPRESENTATIVES REPRESENT OUR VOTERS

Because of redistricting laws in Ohio, voters weren’t really choosing their representatives. The representatives are choosing their voters.

The current system encourages partisan gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a controversial form of redistricting in which electoral district boundaries are manipulated for an unnatural electoral advantage, usually in the favor of incumbents or a specific political party. Eldridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts, used it in 1810 when he drew a district resembling a salamander. Today, computer technology and an increase in voters who identify with a particular party have made it much easier to exactly draw lines to achieve goals.

As a result, gerrymandering in Ohio has produced a Congressional delegation, and a State Senate and House of Representatives that are not representative of the political make-up of Ohio citizens. It has made it very difficult for opponents to unseat incumbents.


Representation

Ohio has long been a “battleground state” because its citizens divide themselves fairly evenly between Republicans and Democrats. In 2004 and 2000, Ohio’s electoral votes in the presidential election went to the Republican candidate (by just two percentage points in 2004). In 2,008, 1996 and 1992, our electoral votes went to the Democratic candidate. In 2002 all state wide non-judicial races were won by Republicans. In 2006 all statewide non-judicial races were won by Democrats except for the position of Auditor. Our voting history demonstrates a fairly even split of citizens according to party affiliations but the skewed outcome of certan congressional and legislative races make it appear that a particular party dominates. This has been the case whether Democrats or Republicans were in control of the redistricting process.

The League believes that there can be improvements in the redistricting process that produces districts that are competititeve to truly give voters a choice in electing their leaders as opposed to leaders selecting their voters.

However, Ohio’s elected representatives are nowhere near 50/50. Beginning in 2005:

  • 67% of Ohio’s Congressional delegation was Republican
  • 67% of Ohio’s Senate members were Republican
  • 60% of Ohio’s House members were Republican

Beginning in 2007, despite voters selecting Democrats for all but one non-judicial statewide elected office:

  • 61% of Ohio’s Congressional delegation is Republican
  • 64% of Ohio’s Senate members are Republican
  • 54% of Ohio’s House members are Republican

Begining in 2008

  • 56% of the Congressional Delegation is Democrat
  • 64% of Ohio’s Senate Members are Republican
  • 54% of Ohio’s House Members are Democrat.

Although we have seen slight shifts in party dominance in legislative bodies in Ohio, the current process creates the environment for partisan influence in drawing district lines. Ohio’s history with redistricting has shown that whichever party controls the pen, there is a great likelihood of districts being created that advantage that particular party through the creation of “safe” districts.