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Fight Is On Over Ohio Redistricting

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 6:23 PM

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Ohioans will vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn now that the Ohio Secretary of State has certified the issue for the fall ballot. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports on how both supporters and opponents of the plan are now gearing up for a battle at the ballot box.

Now that backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to change the redistricting process have enough valid signatures to put the issue on the statewide ballot, attention turns to how to sell it to voters.  The supporters of the plan already have their mantra…..people not politicians.  But now opponents of the plan have a mantra of their own…..protect your vote.  Jenny Camper is with a group that plans to fight the proposed redistricting plan.

Camper = As the weeks roll on here and people become more aware of this redistricting issue, they will find that this is very important.  It will determine whether voters are going to have accountability in their redistricting process, whether they are going to have an ethical redistricting process.

Camper says opponents of the plan will talk about its flaws.  She says the plan leaves the legislature holding the bag to pay for the costs of the process…something that could prove to be expensive. And she says it replaces elected officials with a board over which citizens have no control.

Camper – It moves Ohio’s redistricting from a system of accountability to a system with really little or no accountability.

But Catherine Turcer, a supporter of Voter’s First, the group that’s backing this proposed constitutional amendment, says she’s not surprised that Republicans who are in charge of the process right now are going to fight the plan she’s pushing.

Turcer – We are in a winner takes all system and that means whoever is in charge draws the lines to benefit themselves and their friends.  What we want to do is create a system where independents, Republicans and Democrats all have a voice.

Turcer says there diversity of the commission insures that no one political party can control the process.

Turcer - What we are talking about is an incredible systemic reform that takes the power away from those people who drew the lines, who rigged the district lines and in effect, rigged our elections.

As far as accountability, Turcer says the lines for the current maps were drawn by Republican operatives in a secret location in a Columbus hotel.  And she notes thousands of dollars went into fees for those operatives and that hotel room.  Turcer says the public had no input in that process until it was already completed.

The fight over redistricting is just beginning.  The state’s ballot board will meet next week to consider the language that will appear on ballots. 

Tags

Government/Politics, Statehouse News Bureau

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