For over a decade, Ohio has been the nation’s most fiercely contested swing state, and its politics are as polarized as anywhere in the country. And yet, lawmakers from both parties somehow came together last week to approve a widely-praised plan aimed at making the state’s redistricting system fairer and less partisan. The state Senate voted 32-1 Friday in favor of the plan. If it passes a final vote in the House, as expected, it will go before voters next fall. The breakthrough comes amid growing, nationwide concern that rampant partisan gerrymandering threatens the legitimacy and responsiveness of our democracy, producing a shrinking number of competitive races and a House of Representatives whose partisan alignment is badly out of whack with voters’ preferences. So, can Ohio offer the rest of the country any lessons? Perhaps, but there certainly aren’t any magic bullets.
After winning full control of state government in 2010, Ohio Republicans gerrymandered with ruthless efficiency. The result: In 2012, the GOP won 12 out of 16 U.S. House races while capturing just 52% of the combined votes in those races. State-level districts also were drawn to benefit Republicans and minimize the number of competitive races.
If approved by voters next fall, the new plan would create a seven-member redistricting commission comprising the governor, secretary of state, state auditor and four lawmakers — two from each chamber and from each party. More important, the panel would have to abide by certain criteria in drawing district lines during the once-a-decade process: They could not draw lines to favor one party over the other, and they would have to aim to keep counties and communities together. The number of districts that lean toward one party or the other would have to bear some relation to recent statewide voting behavior.
Full Article: Ohio’s redistricting breakthrough | MSNBC.