Voters will have a chance to change the way politicians draw state legislative district lines when they consider State Issue 1 on November 3. “The drawing of the lines is the single most significant factor in determining who wins,” said former State Rep. Vernon Sykes, an Akron Democrat who with former state Rep. Matt Huffman, R-Lima, is co-chairing the Fair Districts for Ohio campaign promoting State Issue 1. Supporters say the proposed constitutional amendment would upend what has been a largely partisan exercise that allows the party in power to create districts packed with its supporters while marginalizing supporters of the minority party. Lines are redrawn for the Ohio Legislature every 10 years to reflect population shifts.
Previous efforts to reform the process have failed, typically with the party in power opposing any change. Voters have soundly rejected constitutional amendments reforming the process three times, most recently in 2012. Issue 1 is unique in that it has bipartisan support and has no organized opposition.
“Of all the things I think the Democrats are dead wrong on I finally have found something I can agree with them on. We should pass Issue 1,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party.
David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said he wishes the proposal would take effect immediately rather than 2021 when the next redistricting occurs, because the current districts so clearly favor Republicans “there is almost no competition.”