Gerrymandering is a non-issue in Iowa. Since 1981, a nonpartisan state agency has drawn Iowa’s congressional district lines, following strict rules to create compact districts without regard to politics. The legislature still has the final say, but each time the agency’s work has been approved by the legislature without revision. Perhaps Ohio could learn something from Iowa.
In this sixth part of a cleveland.com series – Out of Line: Impact 2017 and Beyond – we examine what could be learned from the Hawkeye State in search of a way to rid Ohio of the politically motivated gerrymandering currently focused on politicians and their political parties rather than the citizens.
In Ohio, the new congressional maps drawn after each census are done so with the approval of the Ohio House, Ohio Senate and the governor. The Republicans controlled the process the last two times, creating the maps for the 2002-10 and 2012-20 elections. Before then, party power was split; but the boundaries always were drawn by politicians — Democrats or Republicans.
In Iowa, the state’s non-partisan Legislative Services Agency follows strict guidelines to draw the maps. The legislature may then approve or reject, but not alter, the maps until a third try.
This has been the process for congressional districts in Iowa since 1981. Sometimes, initial maps have been rejected, but the Iowa legislature has never made revisions. Instead, new maps from the agency were approved.