Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

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Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby mjkuhns » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:08 pm

I want to post an update on the past 24 hours' news on this topic, which I have addressed in this forum a few times these past several months, for reasons elaborated here.

As of today, both houses of the General Assembly have voted in support of a new congressional redistricting process. SJR 5 has solid bipartisan approval, as well as the support of the League of Women Voters-led coalition which has been working on its own reform initiative. Here's what the coalition posted last night, after a unanimous vote in the Ohio Senate. Ohio Governor Kasich also supports SJR 5.

Lakewood's state Rep. Nickie Antonio voted for the measure, today. I believe state Sen. Mike Skindell was unable to be in Columbus for last night's vote, owing to recent injury. I think his intense critique of the early drafts of this legislation (some of which I heard in person last month) deserves real credit for the better version which emerged, along with the efforts of Sen. Vernon Sykes and a handful of others.

What happens now:

This measure is now headed to the May 8 primary ballot, for Ohio voters to approve or disapprove. (I presume it will get an official issue number soon, since the ballot deadline is Wednesday. fyi, any registered voter can vote in the May primary, whether you request a D, R or issues-only ballot.) If approved by voters, the new process will enter the Ohio Constitution, and guide the next congressional redistricting in 2021.

What does this do:

Very simplified version, it should put an end to partisan gerrymandering in Ohio, by calling for substantial bipartisan support for future maps. If that doesn't happen there are some back-up provisions which also seem sound; I'm going to read more about these in the days ahead, but I think it's entirely possible they will never come into use.

Want to know more?

The PD, The Dispatch and The Atlantic all have articles.

There's also an event scheduled in Lakewood, 7pm on February 21 at the offices of the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus. City Council member Tristan Rader and I are both lined up to speak. Unless I hear otherwise, I presume the event is still on, and will probably be re-geared toward explaining this statehouse measure.

The Fair Districts Coalition:

For now, the reform coalition plans to continue circulating the petitions that many of you have signed, mostly as a precaution. If the statehouse measure passes on May 8, which seems realistic, then the initiative petitions will never be filed. In the meantime, the coalition will probably be devoting most of its energies to explaining and campaigning for the statehouse measure.

Personal thoughts:

I have been collecting signatures for this petition since June 3 of last year. At county fairs, on every street in my precinct and several other neighborhoods; in the fading evening light as autumn advanced, in bitter cold. I have driven to Columbus twice, testified once, and given a podcast interview. It's a little unreal to believe that, even if nothing is over quite yet, the goal of getting positive reform on the ballot is now basically accomplished. I'm grateful for the support of those who signed, the incredible volunteer community I have been honored to work with, the local media which honestly did some outstanding coverage of this issue, the legislators who fought with us from inside the statehouse…

I'm also especially grateful to the reform leaders, not only in this effort but in the literally decades' worth of efforts which preceded it. Ultimately the most credit belongs to those who, prior to the 2015 reform that applied to statehouse districts, persisted even in the face of defeat after defeat. I'm incredibly lucky to have walked into this just last year.

:: matt kuhns ::
Stan Austin
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Re: Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby Stan Austin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:15 pm

Matt-- we look to your continued leadership and involvement in this very important issue as to further action or recommendation of voting in this May Primary. Stan

m buckley
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Re: Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby m buckley » Tue Feb 06, 2018 9:10 pm

Thank you for all your hard work on this very important issue.

" City Council is a 7-member communications army." Colin McEwen December 10, 2015.
Brian Essi
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Re: Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby Brian Essi » Wed Feb 07, 2018 7:52 am

Mr. Kuhns,

Thank You for your leadership and hard work.

You should be awarded "Lakewood Person of the Year."

"Does Anyone Know How to Play This Game" Casey Stengel
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Re: Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby mjkuhns » Thu Feb 08, 2018 5:25 pm

The incredibly kind comments from everyone are genuinely moving.

After a couple of days to digest the news, and get others' analysis, I personally read through SJR 5 this afternoon.

My conclusion is that this is very good. The seven pages include various what-if provisions, most of which I suspect will never come into use. The bottom line is that this includes compelling protections against partisan gerrymandering, mainly through a strong requirement for bipartisan approval, although transparency and citizen participation provisions are also welcome.

These, along with some reasonable rules around drawing districts, look like they will go a long way to preventing snake-on-the-lake districts and other redistricting abuses. Bottom line: legislators gerrymander for partisan advantage, and by making that all but impossible, there won't really be incentive left for contortionist-act district lines.

I will be happy to answer questions at greater length, here and elsewhere in the next three months.

Meanwhile, my recommendation is, on May 8 please vote Yes on what should be numbered Issue 1.

:: matt kuhns ::
Michael Deneen
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Re: Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby Michael Deneen » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:34 pm

I want to offer belated thanks to Matt and all the great volunteers who made this happen.
This is what democracy looks like.

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Re: Gerrymandering in Ohio: end in sight?

Postby mjkuhns » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:18 pm

I feel kind of like this issue is ready for an update.

Issue 1 is congressional redistricting reform, it will be on the May 8 ballot. I remain confident in this measure. The Observer kindly printed my article with a general explanation of the issue, which you can also read here.

Formal endorsements of Issue 1 include the Ohio Democratic Party, the Ohio Republican Party, and the good-government groups like League of Women Voters.

The prospects for Issue 1 look good, however:

There is still uncertainty, and no one is funding a big advertising campaign. This remains a substantially grassroots effort, just like the petition drive which (indirectly) led us here.

I believe there is also very good reason to take that extra six or seven seconds and vote yes, even if you're "just" running up the score.

Gerrymandering is a problem with national impact, but it will probably only be fixed one state at a time. My counterparts are actively at work on the same issue, in other states. Michigan is a great example: it has the same problem, it will vote on a citizen-initiative reform in November, and in their case the reform will face opposition.

The best support we could lend to other campaigns is a landslide Yes on Issue 1 vote. Getting the reform on the ballot has already gotten noticed around the country; approving it by a big margin will boost reformers in lots of other states.

So please vote Yes. Encourage people you know to vote Yes. Even if you/they aren't interested in primaries, you can request an issues-only ballot.

Also, yard signs will be available in modest quantities. Tell me if you want a Yes on Issue 1 yard sign; I know some people. 8)

:: matt kuhns ::

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