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.
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:
Beginning in 2007, despite voters selecting Democrats for all but one non-judicial statewide elected office:
Begining in 2008
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.