In the past two elections, 100 percent of Ohio congressional races and 98 percent of legislative contests were won by the political party favored when the district lines were drawn in 2011. In 2014, Ohio Republican congressional candidates got 57 percent of all votes cast but won 75 percent of the seats. Republican candidates for the Ohio House got 57 percent of the vote and won nearly two-thirds of the seats. “Ohio elections will continue to be entirely predictable until we change how these maps are drawn,” said Carrie Davis, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, which put together the data. “We can fix this. We can fix it this year.”
The league and others, including the Ohio Environmental Council and the Ohio Farmers Union, gathered on Wednesday to urge support for state Issue 1, which aims to alter the current legislative-redistricting process that allows the majority party to gerrymander districts to its benefit.
Through techniques such as “packing” and “cracking,” concentrations of voters are stuffed into certain districts or diluted across more than one. This allows the majority party to solidify its power, protect incumbents and ensure that few general-election contests are competitive. Maps in 2011 were drawn in a secret Downtown hotel room rented by Ohio Republicans.
Critics say the process makes lawmakers less accountable to voters and leads to more-partisan governing.