A race for redistricting reform appears to be on for Senate and House Republicans, leaving one to question whether legislators will be able to come together and make good on a promise to pass reform by year’s end. Redistricting discussion ramped up this past week as testimony began on a pair of joint resolutions by Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, that would change the district mapmaking process for state and federal legislators. As voter advocates blasted Huffman’s plan, saying it would be the worst redistricting process in the country, the Senate began moving on a redistricting plan that’s effectively been on hold since it was voted out of committee in June 2013.
Articles about voting issues in Ohio.
Ohio: Redistricting reform for congressional maps unlikely this year, lawmaker says | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The lead lawmaker on redistricting reform in the House said Thursday changes to the process for drawing congressional districts likely won’t happen before next year. The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing whether Arizona can hand its redistricting pen to an independent commission with some members selected by lawmakers instead of the Legislature. The U.S. Constitution states the “times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.” Most Ohio politicians agree the state’s map-drawing has become hyperpartisan and allowed the majority party to ignore input from the minority party. Ohio lawmakers have proposed allowing a panel with the governor, secretary of state, auditor and four state lawmakers — two each from the minority and majority parties — to draw both congressional and state legislative boundaries.
Ohio: Redistricting proposal would give majority party more power, critics say | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Critics say new proposals intended to make Ohio’s process for drawing congressional and legislative district lines less partisan would actually make gerrymandering worse. Rep. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, introduced a pair of resolutions last week intended to amplify minority party members’ voices on the panels that draw the lines. Dan Tokaji, a law professor at OSU’s Moritz College of Law, said the proposals also remove safeguards that allow Ohio citizens and public officials to challenge newly drawn district maps. Tokaji said the resolutions don’t allow a citizen-initiated referendum or a governor’s veto of the congressional map approved by state lawmakers. ”This will ensure the majority party can ram through the plan they want without any votes from the minority party and any realistic plan of it being reversed,” Tokaji told reporters Monday.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Joyce Beatty said yesterday that they are working to pass the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 in the Senate and House, respectively, to improve voter access before Election Day. “That’s one way to suppress the vote is by confusing voters, and we’ve seen that in this state for a number of years,” Brown said at the event at Bethel AME Church on Cleveland Avenue in South Linden. Dispatch Voters Guide: View a sample ballot customized to your location. The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 would be an update to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prevents voter discrimination based on race, color or membership in a minority language group.
A federal appeals court has ruled that organizations conducting voter outreach did not have the right to sue the State of Ohio on behalf of voters arrested and jailed the weekend before election day. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Friday overturned the decision of a federal judge, who ruled that voters jailed the weekend before the election must be given a chance to case an absentee ballot.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted cast a vote for himself Wednesday. The state’s chief elections officer broke a tie vote at the Hamilton County Board of Elections over whether to hang a poster bearing his name in all of the county’s polling places. Husted and fellow Republicans say the poster, which features a drawing by a fifth grader from Jackson, Ohio, is harmless and informational because it encourages people to “exercise your right to vote.” It also, however, prominently features Husted’s name in white letters against a blue backdrop stripped across the top. And that, Democrats say, is unfair in an election year when Husted is running for office against Democrat Nina Turner. They say the poster essentially is a campaign ad for Husted, and no one else is allowed to bring buttons, posters, bumper stickers or other campaign material into polling places.
You may be proud to cast your votes for particular candidates in Ohio — so proud, in fact, that you decide to take a picture of your ballot and post it on social media before mailing it in. Congratulations, you likely just committed a felony. Under Ohio laws written before anyone ever heard of Facebook and when tweets were associated only with birds, it is illegal to show off how you voted by revealing your completed ballot to someone else. The law says it is a fifth-degree felony for a voter to “allow the elector’s ballot to be seen by another … with the apparent intention of letting it be known how the elector is about to vote.” Another section of law prohibits displaying a marked ballot while in the polling place. “The idea behind it was to keep people from selling their votes,” said Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington. “I think it’s a violation of free speech.”
In the 2012 elections, a Redistricting Amendment to the Ohio Constitution was put on the ballot. Known as Issue 2, the amendment would have created a commission of twelve citizens to draw legislative and congressional maps. The amendment was defeated at the ballot box by a resounding 63% against and 37% for the amendment. To many, partisan redistricting is only a polite way of saying gerrymandering, and this very process of the state legislature choosing who will essentially elect them is provided for in the Ohio Constitution. In fact, the Secretary of State of Ohio, John Husted, wrote in the Washington Post this February, “[I]f government is to be more responsive, it is not the people but the Ohio Constitution that needs to change.” However, it may very well be the case that John Husted was the reason for Issue 2 failing at the ballot box. In 2012 I was an undergraduate student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I received my absentee ballot in the mail and started working my way through it. After wondering to myself “Why in the world am I electing members of the Judiciary?” I reached the part of the ballot pertaining to Issues. The first, Ohio’s twenty year option to hold a constitutional convention to “revise, alter, or amend the constitution,” and after that a two column monstrosity of an issue that made me cringe. I must confess, I voted against it. I thought it looked too complicated and surely there could be an easier way to redistrict.
Anyone who votes in Lucas County knows that there’s a limit to how far the computer revolution has invaded the election process. At each of the approximately 350 precinct locations, poll workers flip through paper binders to locate a voter’s name, and then the voter signs his or her name in that book. After the election, those binders then go back to the Lucas County Board of Elections office to be audited, page by page, to verify who voted and who didn’t. While that time-honored process is not going to change in time for the Nov. 4 election, the Lucas County Board of Elections would like to replace the old paper and pen method with computerized tablets at least in time for the 2016 presidential election.
Early voting began Tuesday morning in Ohio after the U.S. Supreme Court stepped into a dispute over the schedule, pushing the start date back a week in the swing state. Voters will pick the next governor along with other statewide officeholders on Nov. 4. Residents also will decide a number of legislative races and the outcome of more than 1,600 local issues. Ohioans can cast an absentee ballot by mail or in person. The start of early voting had shifted amid a lawsuit over two election-related measures.