Secretary of State Jon Husted expressed optimism this morning that Ohioans will see a revamped process of redrawing legislative districts, although he is pushing for a key change in the current proposal under consideration. A measure passed almost unanimously by the Ohio House calls for a seven-member panel to redraw the districts. The group would include the governor, auditor, secretary of state, and four lawmakers — two from each major party. Only four votes would be required to approve a new map, but two of them must come from members of the minority party. That means the four legislators could draw the maps themselves, without any input from the statewide officials on the panel. “Essentially, the legislature is granting itself a new constitutional right to draw their own districts without any interference. That is probably my biggest concern about where it stands at the moment,” Husted said during a session this morning at the Ohio State University’s College of Law.
That could make it harder to sell the constitutional amendment to Ohio voters, he said, raising the prospect of collusion among state lawmakers to grant themselves safe districts. “It will look self-serving,” Husted said.
He wants the panel to either require a five-member supermajority or – if only four can OK a new legislative map – mandate that at least one of the four be a statewide official.
Husted has supported changing how legislative and congressional districts are drawn for years, because he says a system in which primary elections largely determine the eventual winner is not good for democracy in Ohio.