DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - ISSUE 2: PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO CREATE A STATE-FUNDED COMMISSION TO DRAW LEGISLATIVE AND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. Click here for full text
If there are truly undecided voters among us, Ohio's Issue 2 could very well be the one point of contention in this upcoming election that is causing the most confusion. After all, we've lived with the President Barack Obama for the past four years, and challenger Mitt Romney has been running for the office for the more years than that. But voters have only had a few short months to decide what they want to do about Congressional redistricting in Ohio.
Issue 2 is a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would reform the way the state's Congressional and legislative boundaries are drawn, a process known as redistricting that happens every 10 years, coinciding with the federal census.
Elected officials, including the governor and legislative leaders, control the current process and district boundary lines typically are drawn to favor whichever party is in power. Last year, Republicans, who control state government, drew news districts designed to help Republicans win future elections.
Issue 2 would remove elected officials from the redistricting process and hand the responsibility over to a new redistricting commission. A YES vote means approval of the amendment. A NO vote means disapproval of the amendment.
For proponents of Issue 2, passage fixes a broken system and reduces partisanship. Those in favor of issue 2 contend the amendment will result in congressional and legislative district lines that are accountable, transparent and balanced because politicians and special interest groups will be eliminated from the process.
In a story published Sept. 12, 2012 in the Columbus Dispatch , Democratic Ohio House candidate, Mike Curtin said, "There's only one thing that matters -- what would the maps likely look like under this new process. For me, the evidence is clear. If Issue 2 is adopted we'd have much better maps"
Not so, says Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. "Ohio needs to reform its redistricting process, but this is not reform," said Husted, a Republican, in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article published Aug. 11, 2012. "This has the potential to be just as bad or worse as the current system for different reasons. "
Opponents of Issue 2 argue that redistricting should not be turned over to unelected bureaucrats, noting commission members would not be held to requirements about ethics and financial disclosure, and once appointed to the commission, could not be removed.
Opponents also claims the commission would have unlimited funding and most Ohioans would be prohibited from serving on the panel based on rigid eligibility rules.
If Issue 2 is passed, how would the new system work? According to the League of Women Voters 2012 Voters Guide, the amendment would create a 12-person commission to draw legislative and congressional districts. Final legislative and congressional districts are to be those that most-closely meet four criteria:
- Preserving whole communities
- Maximizing the number of competitive districts
- Balancing the number of districts leaning toward one party or another to closely match the state's political leaning
- Keeping districts compact
No map is to be adopted with intent to favor a political party, incumbent or potential candidate. At least seven votes would be required to approve the districts.
All meetings and records would be public.
Any eligible Ohioan could apply to be a commission member. Those not eligible would be specified elected office holders, candidates, political party officials, paid lobbyists, public employees and family members.
A panel of eight state appeals-court judges would screen and pick 42 potential members, divided evenly among Democrats, Republicans and Ohio voters unaffiliated with either major party. The House speaker and minority leader could reduce the list to 24. From that pool, a random drawing would select three people from each party, and three unaffiliated members. Those nine people would select the final three members, one from each major party and one unaffiliated member.
Should Issue 2 pass, a commission would be appointed next year to draw new maps for the 2014 election.
In support of the proposed amendment: Voters First www.votersfirstohio.com
In opposition to the proposed amendment: Protect Your Vote www.protectyourvoteohio.com
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