Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants to redesign how Ohio draws its congressional boundaries through an unusual vehicle: the new state budget to be rolled out late this month. While voters in 2015 overwhelmingly approved a ballot issue enacting a new method to draw state legislative districts to reduce gerrymandering and increase political competitiveness, the recrafting of U.S. House districts has languished. The second-term Republican said he will ask majority GOP lawmakers to “do the same thing as done with legislative districts” in adjusting a House-redistricting scheme that has helped Republicans achieve a 12-4 majority with Democrats restricted to four “can’t-lose” districts. “They were going to drop it out as not germane (to the state budget),” Kasich said this afternoon in an apparent reference to legislative leaders. “If they want to drop it out as not germane, let them do it.”
The governor said gerrymandering has “exacerbated this problem” in which he said politicians and voters alike are locked into conservative and liberal “silos” and do not respect or tolerate other views.
Legislative redistricting, which has created a majority of seats that Republicans are hard-pressed to lose, will undergo changes beginning in 2021. Good-government groups have continued to lobby for congressional changes, but lawmakers have balked.
The new process will attempt to curtail the partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts by the five-member redistricting panel, which includes the governor, secretary of state, auditor and two legislative appointees, dominated by Republicans. Two more legislative appointees will join the panel and if two minority party members vote to OK the maps, they will be used for 10 years. If not, the maps must be redrawn in 10 years.