Ohio voters are expected to overhaul how election maps are drawn as states look for ways to make congressional and legislative districts more competitive and less confusing after decades of partisan gerrymandering. The Midwestern state will vote Tuesday on a constitutional amendment to change how Ohio is carved up into state House and Senate districts. Congressional districts won’t be affected by the changes, but advocates say they could be next. Attempts to change the map-drawing process have failed before in Ohio. But the amendment on the ballot Tuesday passed the Legislature with bipartisan support and has no organized opposition. The redistricting process, which takes place once a decade to account for population shifts, is criticized in many states for being used by elected officials to boost the chances of incumbents and expand the reach of the political party in power. “When you have more competitive districts, you have more collaboration, more compromise—and we feel better government,” said Vernon Sykes, a former Democratic state representative who pushed for the Ohio constitutional amendment with a Republican colleague.
The Ohio vote is part of an effort in some of the largest U.S. states to reduce the partisanship often embedded in the redistricting process. Critics say such gerrymandering makes party primaries hold outsize importance and allows people from the extremes of both parties to end up in Congress and state capitols. California, Florida and New York in recent years have all passed ballot measures to overhaul the process of drawing political lines, while advocates in Illinois are collecting signatures to force a statewide vote next year.
Nationally, such efforts received a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court over the summer when justices upheld changes made in Arizona that took the power to draw district lines away from state lawmakers and gave it to an independent commission.
“There is just kind of this buzz in a number of states,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of Independent Maps, a group of business and civic leaders pushing for the statewide vote in Illinois.
Full Article: Ohio Voters Set to Rein In Gerrymandering – WSJ.