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Speaker Shows Lukewarm Interest in Redistricting Reform  By: Jim Siegel The Columbus Dispatch - January 18, 2012 10:01 AM  The list of priority legislation for House Republicans this year did not include an effort to revamp Ohio’s hyper-partisan process for drawing legislative and congressional districts. “Interesting,” Speaker William G. Batchelder said with a laugh when reminded that the issue was not among those discussed during a press conference yesterday to highlight past accomplishments and what leaders hope to tackle in 2012. “That was all the newspapers could talk about for awhile there.”As part of the congressional map deal passed in December, ... read more
Blueprint for Reform  Every 20 years, Ohio voters decide whether to authorize a citizens' convention that would update the state constitution or even write a new one. The next opportunity to revisit Ohio's fundamental law will come this November. Ohioans should prepare themselves to take advantage of it.The last time voters invoked the option was in 1912. That year, a constitutional convention approved such useful measures as the initiative and referendum, which enable voters to enact laws directly and to affirm or repeal laws passed by the General Assembly.Over the past century, though, Ohioans have repeatedly rejected statewide conventions in favor of various ... read more
Political Map Battle Likely to Continue  By Laura Bischoff | Thursday, January 12, 2012, 03:36 PM  Although lawmakers agreed last month on a bill that carves out 16 new congressional district maps, the arguing over how Ohio should draw legislative and congressional maps is not dying down.This week, Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican who has been pushing for reform for seven years, urged House Speaker William Batchelder, R-Medina, to consider revamping the process as part of an overall update of the Ohio Constitution.“There are many ways to improve upon the partisan, dysfunctional system that currently exists,” Husted wrote to Batchelder and members of ... read more
New Congressional Map Gets Failing Grade “Sweetheart Deal” scores lower than all 53 redistricting competition plansA “Big Lump of Coal” for Ohio citizens Columbus, OH – Ohio citizen groups today released an analysis of the new Congressional districts approved by the state legislature and signed by the Governor last week (HB 369). The plan’s final score was just 53 — worse than all 53 citizen-drawn plans submitted in the competition sponsored by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, a coalition led by the League of Women Voters and Ohio Citizen Action“This plan is a partisan gerrymander by any definition,” said Catherine ... read more
Group Says Ohio's New Congressional Map Lacks Competition, Fairness By Joe Hallett Columbus Dispatch Wednesday December 21, 2011 2:08 PMComments: 36 ShareThis Even the 450 members of Russia’s Duma are elected from districts that are fairer and more competitive than the 16 congressional districts drawn by Republicans controlling the Statehouse, an Ohio State University political scientist has concluded.Richard Gunther today called the new congressional map signed into law last week by Gov. John Kasich “stunning” for its representational unfairness, saying it is twice as unfair as the next-worst democratic systems in the world.“This is a very, very bad map,” said Gunther, a scholar ... read more
Legislature's Map Makers Should Get Coal in their Stockings Credit (or blame) state Rep. Matt Huffman for uttering the year’s most cynical statement.On Wednesday, the Lima Republican called a bill that lays out new congressional districts “a little bit of a Christmas gift to the folks of Ohio.”No fair-minded Santa would ever deliver it.This gift virtually ensures that Huffman’s party will control 12 of Ohio’s 16 districts through this decade.This gift mocks the goal of keeping together communities of interest. The new 15 {+t}{+h} district, for example, combines big swaths of Appalachia with Upper Arlington and Downtown Columbus.This gift makes hash out of redistricting principles ... read more
An Ohio Redistricting Post-Mortem: Editorial Ohio lawmakers have mercifully ended the tawdry Statehouse war over new congressional district boundaries. The best that can be said for Substitute House Bill 369, which Gov. John Kasich signed Thursday, is that Ohio will now hold one 2012 statewide primary election (March 6), not two.As to the 16 districts, Republicans conceded some face-saving tweaks to Democrats, including a better chance for two African-American representatives to go to Washington and a less fractured Dayton area. The tweaks also leave U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur's Toledo base more intact -- and thus more challenging to win for Cleveland's Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who loses only ... read more
Documents: Boehner rep key in Ohio redistricting map COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Public documents released Monday by Ohio voter advocates show representatives of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and operatives at the National Republican Congressional Committee were central in drawing the state’s disputed congressional map.Documents obtained through a public records request by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting show Tom Whatman, executive director of a congressional campaign effort called Team Boehner, legislative leaders, mapmaking consultants and the National Republican Congressional Committee participating in the process.The correspondence includes a pledge by GOP Senate President ... read more
Ohio Legislature's Proposed Redistricting Map Scores Last in Redistricting Competition September 14, 2011COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting has scored the Ohio legislature’s proposed redistricting map, HB 319, against the ones received for its competition. HB 319 scores lower than any of the 53 competition maps submitted by private citizens. The Ohio Campaign has also announced the winning maps from the Redistricting Competition.The districts as proposed in HB 319 pack Democratic voters into four districts, leaving eight districts favoring Republicans.Only two districts are competitive, as opposed to 11 under the top citizen plan. The proposed plan creates 68 county fragments, as compared ... read more
Non-Partisan Election Groups Pick Redistricting Winner COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio League of Women Voters and other non-partisan election groups announced the winner of their redistricting map contest Wednesday."It's time we get passed the hyper-partisan political decision making in drawing districts," said Meg Flack with the League of Women Voters.Flack said that there's an advantage to allowing citizens and not politicians draw fair districts."The advantage is for the voters," Flack said. "It's putting the constituents first rather than the party."The group announced that a Republican lawmaker from Illinois, Mike Fortner, had submitted the winning map. He'll receive ... read more
Voter ID Rule Is Dead, At Least For Now Voter ID rule is dead, at least for now, Opposition from Husted, Senate stymies HouseFriday, July 29, 2011 03:05 AM By Darrel Rowland and Ben Geier. A plan to require Ohioans to show a photo ID before voting is dead."I think we'll probably not see it again," said House Speaker William G. Batchelder after a brief legislative session yesterday. "There's a limit to the amount of times you want to run your head into a wall, and it makes your ears ring."Although the Medina Republican strongly supports the photo-ID requirement, the bill passed by the House is opposed by Secretary of State Jon Husted, a fellow Republican, and ... read more
Redistricting Contest All Set For Your Ideas Organizers hope exercise helps find a viable solution. Wednesday, July 20, 2011 03:09 AM By Ben Geier. Think you could do a better job than politicians at drawing legislative and congressional districts? Your chance is now.The League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Midwest Democracy Network and Ohio Citizen Action kicked off a competition yesterday to allow Ohioans to create their own new maps for the Ohio House and Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives."We are here today to launch a campaign that has the potential to change the way redistricting is done in Ohio and throughout the country," said Jim Slagle of the Ohio ... read more
Redistricting Competition Launch For Release - July 19, 2011. Redistricting Competition Begins TodayColumbus, 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:• ... read more
Husted Maintains Stance Against Photo-ID Provision Husted maintains stance against photo-ID provisionFriday, June 24, 2011 04:33 PM By Joe Vardon. Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted issued another strong statement against requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls, continuing his week-long streak of standing against members of his own party.In a statement emailed by his office today, Husted said: "I want to be perfectly clear, when I began working with the General Assembly to improve Ohio's elections system it was never my intent to reject valid votes."I would rather have no bill than one with a rigid photo identification provision that does little to protect ... read more
Elections Bill Stalls, Is Back Elections bill stalls, is backPassage expected today; voter ID now separate bill Thursday, June 23, 2011 03:05 AM By Jim Siegel. Proposals to overhaul Ohio election law and require that voters show a photo ID at the polls took a few unusual turns yesterday as Republicans, including the secretary of state, tried to work out a final deal.One day after suddenly inserting a controversial photo ID requirement into a broad elections-overhaul bill, Senate Republicans yesterday decided to pull the provision back out and instead work to pass it as a separate bill.Then the elections-overhaul bill briefly stalled when GOP leaders placed it on the Senate ... read more
Protecting Turf is GOP Aim in Congressional Redistricting After wiping Democrat's district off the map, Republicans say there's not much else to grab Friday, June 17, 2011 03:06 AM By Jim SiegelTHE COLUMBUS DISPATCH DispatchPoliticsFor additional coverage of state and local government, visit DispatchPolitics.comThe Daily BriefingThe blog from The Dispatch’s public affairs teamA legislative panel yesterday formally kicked off the process of redrawing Ohio's congressional districts, where majority Republicans will try to erase two seats without hurting members of their own party.Riding a national wave in the 2010 election, Republicans won 13 of Ohio's 18 congressional districts. But Ohio's lack ... read more
Update Districts Fairly Update Districts FairlyAs the Republicans who control state government prepare to redraw Ohio's congressional and legislative districts, they face a choice.They can adjust the boundaries of these districts to serve voters, by promoting truly competitive elections that provide effective representation. Or they can stack the deck in a way that gives their party an unfair -- and undemocratic -- advantage in elections for the next decade.History suggests Gov. John Kasich, the General Assembly, and the state Apportionment Board will opt for the latter approach and gerrymander Ohio within an inch of its life. But breaking with the past and allowing ... read more
Ohio House Passes Election Reforms Ohio House passes election reformsDemocrats call bill an attempt to hinder their voters Wednesday, May 18, 2011 04:35 PM By Jim SiegelThe Columbus Dispatch OHIO HOUSEReps. Kathleen Clyde, D-Kent, and Robert Mecklenborg, R-CincinnatiElections officials could no longer send absentee ballot applications to all Franklin County voters, and the time for in-person early voting would be significantly reduced under an elections overhaul bill that passed the House today along party lines.The sweeping bill, which also would attempt to lessen the need to cast provisional ballots, allows election boards to save money through bulk purchasing, and would let ... read more
Making Early Voting Easier, Not Harder Editorial: Make early voting easier, not harderedletter@coxohio.comPosted: 05/18/2011 5:55 AMBy the Dayton Daily NewsSome people in Columbus want to curtail in-person early-voting opportunities to a remarkable degree. Terrible idea.Early voting is one of the best ideas to be adopted in the running of elections. And its adoption has already shaped other policies, which might have to be changed, too, if early voting is curtailed.Specifically, the issue is this: Under current Ohio law, people can vote in person or cast an absentee mail-in ballot 35 days before the election. That’s a bit much. That calendar doesn’t give candidates for ... read more
Order Would Require Important Disclosure Friday, May 13, 2011 03:06 AM In his May 1 Forum column “Order is attempt to muzzle contractors,” Bradley A. Smith decried President Barack Obama’s proposed executive order requiring disclosure of political spending by government contractors. In fact, the executive order in no way muzzles contractors. It would simply require disclosure by contractors of contributions or expenditures to parties, party committees or to third-party entities that can be expected to use the contributions to support or oppose federal candidates.Such entities in recent years have come to play an increasingly important role in political campaigns, ... read more