The fed-up, frustrated mood of Ohio voters in this year’s elections can be traced in large part to an issue that voters themselves have traditionally ignored: gerrymandering. It’s largely why all 16 of Ohio’s U.S. representatives were easily re-elected earlier this month despite near-record-low approval ratings of 14 percent for a body frozen by gridlock. The 15 who had an opponent won with an average of 66 percent of the vote. While Republicans have seemingly benefited the most from districts last drawn in 2011 – holding three-quarters of U.S. House seats and a super-majority of General Assembly seats in a politically balanced state – they realize change is needed. “Gerrymandering is the leading cause of dysfunction in both state and federal legislatures,” state Sen. Frank LaRose, an Akron-area Republican, told The Enquirer. “Reforming this is one of the most impactful things we can do for the future of our democracy.” We agree, and there’s no question that change is needed before district lines are redrawn in 2021.
The current lines have moved the power from general-election voters to the fewer and generally more ideological primary voters. Think Tom Brinkman, who managed to find space to the right of incumbent Rep. Peter Stautberg to defeat him in the East Side primary for the Ohio House. In these cases and others, the GOP candidate perceived to be more conservative won and then went on to a cakewalk Nov. 4.
“At the end of the day what we really want is a system that encourages compromise,” said Dan Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor who was part of a failed redistricting reform attempt in 2012. “That’s not the system we have now. It’s not good for either Republicans or Democrats, but it’s especially bad for Republicans because it’s pushing them to the extremes.”
LaRose’s district is one illustration of gerrymandering: It takes in parts of three counties – Summit, Stark and Wayne – and five congressional districts.
Full Article: Editorial: Fix this ridiculous map.