Tired of talking about how Democrats in Illinois rigged the legislative maps to elect more Democrats? Let’s talk about how Republicans in Ohio rigged the legislative maps to elect more Republicans. And about how Ohio voters are trying to fix it. In the 2012 election — the first using new maps based on the 2010 U.S. Census numbers — Republican candidates for the Ohio House of Representatives got 49 percent of the vote and won 60 percent of the seats. Republicans running for Senate got 68 percent of the vote and won 83 percent of the seats. Those maps weren’t drawn to ensure that voters had their say. They were drawn to benefit the politicians who controlled the redistricting process. Using sophisticated software and voter history data, Republicans drew grossly misshapen districts, surrounding their allies with friendly voters and busting up communities to disadvantage their enemies. It worked.
Based on a “partisan index” that measures how strongly a district is stacked in favor of one party, the League of Women Voters of Ohio determined that the results of the 2012 election were dictated by mapmakers in 97 of 99 House races and in all 18 Senate races.
Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s exactly what goes on in Illinois. Actually, it goes on in every state that allows politicians to draw their own districts. The only thing that varies is which party has the upper hand.
This part sounds familiar too: Ohio voters who are wise to this racket have been trying for decades to amend their Constitution to promote fair, competitive elections. Politicians have worked to defeat those initiatives every time.
Also as in Illinois, Ohio lawmakers have feigned an interest in placing redistricting reforms on the ballot themselves, but never did so — until now. In last year’s lame duck session, a bipartisan compromise crafted by two retiring lawmakers passed both houses overwhelmingly. It’s on the Nov. 3 ballot. It has been endorsed by both parties, with moderate enthusiasm, and by dozens of business and civic groups. It has no organized opposition, and polls predict it will pass.