Last Tuesday’s Dispatch editorial, “ Clinton off-base on Ohio voting rules,” and the Friday letter “ Clinton did not mention Ohio, Kasich” from Randall Morrison brought attention to the important issue of voter suppression. However, voter suppression is broader and more insidious than the length of early-voting rules. The real “elephant in the room” of representative democracy is gerrymandering, and Ohio represents one of the worst cases in the country. Rigged Ohio House and Senate and U.S. House district lines have resulted in Republicans controlling 12 out of 16 U.S. House seats and huge majorities in the Ohio House and Senate.
In the 2012 presidential election, with comparable numbers of Ohio Democrats and Republicans casting votes, the average Democratic vote had between a third and a half of the value of the average Republican vote in electing members of their respective parties to the Ohio House and Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Redistricting occurs only every 10 years, and once the process is rigged, it is in place through several election cycles.
Historically, both parties have done it, but in recent years the Republicans have gained a disproportionate advantage, with 24 states rigged in their favor and eight rigged by Democrats. Thus, the process does not cancel out nationally and there is some evidence that “safe” district representatives have less incentive to work across the aisle.