WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pro-democracy groups have started collecting signatures for an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would allow a bipartisan and citizen-led redistricting commission to draw the state’s congressional and state legislative maps.
While Ohio technically has had a redistricting commission since 2018, it has not produced fair maps. Republicans on the commission, who outnumber Democrats, rammed through gerrymandered maps that were repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. The current commission is a political one, with all members either being elected officials or individuals appointed by elected officials. Republicans hold a 5-2 majority.
The new commission that Ohio groups hope to get on the 2024 ballot would prevent that from happening again, as the commission would be evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and Independents. As a citizen-led commission, the group would consist of 15 members of the Ohio public.
While there are many steps the groups will have to take to successfully get the amendment on the ballot and passed, there are reasons for the groups to be hopeful. The current redistricting commission was also created from a constitutional amendment, which passed with more than 70% support from Ohio voters in 2018. That amendment was similarly pushed as a way to curb gerrymandering in the state, but the structure of the commission allowed for Ohio Republicans to maintain unfair maps.
In order for the proposed amendment to qualify for the 2024 ballot, the groups would need to obtain signatures equal to 10% of the total votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. That’s a far cry from what Issue 1, which last week failed in the state by 14 points, would have required. If the Republican-backed proposal had passed, groups would need to reach that threshold in all 88 counties.
As a first step, the groups will need to gather 1,000 signatures for a petition that would prompt the Ohio attorney general to consider the ballot language