Republicans working on congressional redistricting reform announced several changes to their plan Monday night aimed at appeasing Democrats and advocates pushing their own reform measure. But both groups said the revised plan still does not eliminate partisan gerrymandering and allows politicians to slice and dice communities to their parties’ advantage. The Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition plans to move forward getting its proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot. “This is simply why no one trusts politicians,” Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council and one of the Fair Districts leaders said in a statement. “We have no choice to continue onward with our ballot initiative to ensure voters across Ohio aren’t gerrymandered into districts where their elected representatives aren’t beholden to voters.”
The announcement was made jointly by Republican Sen. Matt Huffman and Rep. Kirk Schuring without mention of their Democratic counterparts Sen. Vernon Sykes and Rep. Jack Cera nor the Fair Districts coalition. The three groups have been talking behind the scenes for the past three weeks in hopes of reaching a compromise.
Huffman said Monday’s changes reflect negotiations with Democrats and advocates and input from the public.
The updated plan still keeps the Ohio General Assembly in charge of drawing congressional district lines every 10 years, instead of a seven-member commission as proposed by the Fair Districts ballot issue group. But Republicans increased the amount of bipartisan support needed to pass a map from 33 percent to 50 percent of the minority party members in the House and Senate. And they limited county splits to no more than two, allowing only five counties to be split twice.