2012, Ohio: Vote No on Issue 2
November 3, 2012
Every ten years, after the Census measures shifts in population, states redraw their legislative districts accordingly. In Ohio and other states, people have long criticized the redistricting process, which is highly political: As much as it can, the party that won the last election and has control of the state legislature carefully sculpts the district boundaries to its political advantage. For better or for worse, both parties do this.
This time, after Republicans’ historic gains in the 2010 elections, Ohio Democrats want a do-over. Just two years later, they’ve put Issue 2 on the ballot, asking voters to throw out this decade’s district lines and create a new redistricting process.
A surprisingly broad coalition (see list below) agrees that Issue 2 is a bad idea. Even if you want redistricting reform, there are other ways of doing it that people were already working on before partisan Democrats got impatient and came up with Issue 2. For example, last year the Ohio Assembly created the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, which the Ohio State Bar Association considers the appropriate forum for redistricting reform. Another possibility is the Ohio Redistricting Reform Task Force, which is due to issue its recommendations next month. Issue 2 jumps the gun and throws away the possibility of thoughtful, bipartisan solutions from those or other quarters.
The Ohio State Bar Association, which I’m told almost never takes a position on a ballot initiative like this, has publicly and strongly come out against Issue 2. They’ve created a whole Web site about Issue 2, Protect Justice Ohio.com: “Protect Justice: Vote No on Issue 2”.
OSBA explains that it opposes Issue 2 because the amendment would threaten the separation of powers and drag the judicial branch, which is supposed to be non-political, into political fights:
By putting members of the judiciary branch of government in this highly political environment, Issue 2, if passed, would create a profound conflict of interest for our courts. Today, the Supreme Court stands ready to hear any arguments relative to the legality of proposed redistricting maps. If our judges are responsible for (a) selecting the committee to redraw our districts, (b) be the party that chooses the redistricting proposal should consensus of the citizen committee not be met, and (c) be responsible for ruling on the constitutionality of the maps, then a significant conflict of interest is realized. The Supreme Court of Ohio could be left hearing arguments from opponents of the very proposal that the Supreme Court has put in place. Rather than this process, judges should remain fair and impartial to uphold the law and the constitution without regard to politics.
Since this proposal takes the form of a Constitutional amendment, unlike a legislative proposal that may be easily modified, it would be very difficult to correct these conflicts should the measure pass. In fact, it would take a subsequent Constitutional amendment to make any modifications.
Your right to vote is being threatened.
An organization called Voters First Ohio has placed Issue 2, a constitutional amendment, on the statewide ballot this fall. Issue 2 removes the right of Ohio voters to have a voice in determining state legislative and Congressional district lines through their elected representatives.
Simply put, your voice and your vote will be taken away.
That’s why we formed Protect Your Vote. . . .
This scheme is patterned after a similar plan in California that independent investigations found to be vulnerable to corruption and “cynically manipulated” for partisan advantage.
Don’t let the same thing happen here in Ohio. Protect your vote and defend your right to keep the politicians accountable. Vote NO on Issue 2.
They explain five reasons to vote No on 2:
- 1. Unelected
. . .
- 2. Unaccountable
Commission members are not accountable to Ohio taxpayers or their elected representatives and Issue 2 provides no means for them to be removed. . . .
- 3. No Fiscal Controls
Issue 2 creates a large government bureaucracy, overseen by unelected czars who set their own pay and budget. . . .
- 4. Poorly Written
. . .
- 5. Remains Highly Political
Issue 2 does not take politics out of the redistricting process. It lacks a requirement that commission decisions be made with a bipartisan, supermajority vote, allowing for bitter partisan fights, political gridlock, and one party control. Issue 2 has raised strong objections from the Ohio State Bar Association and Ohio appeals court judges for politicizing the state’s impartial judiciary. Under Issue 2’s plan, Ohio appellate court judges will be lobbied by special interests and political parties to pick certain commission members. Commission members, who would become very powerful political players, will also be subject to strong influence from special interests.
Some of the others who endorse voting No on 2, with excerpts and links to full text:
Both political parties reshape voting districts to their favor when they’re in power and cry foul when they’re not.
. . .
Unfortunately, while many Ohioans would agree redistricting needs reforming, Issue 2 is too flawed a vehicle to get the job done. It offers as much potential for abuse as it does for improvement.
We hope voters will reject it.
. . .
To believe that party leaders won’t try to influence the process is naive. When California tried a somewhat similar plan, the Democrats in power quickly manipulated the process and the state’s districts became even more unbalanced.
- Columbus Dispatch, “No on State Issue 2: Redistricting proposal complicated, clumsy and full of conflicts”
Touted as a way to improve the current system, State Issue 2 actually proposes a complicated, conflicted and unaccountable system that raises more questions than it answers.
Many of those questions likely could be answered only by protracted and expensive lawsuits.
. . .
The proposal closely resembles a redistricting plan passed by California voters, with extremely poor results.
An analysis by the independent investigative-reporting organization ProPublica laid out how California Democrats, who have dominated state politics for decades and who unsuccessfully fought the reform, quickly figured out how to game the new system and manipulate the citizens’ commission that draws legislative boundaries.
The result was a map with even more Democrat-dominant districts than the old system produced. In other words, the plan is open to manipulation by whichever party is the cleverest.
The Voters First proposal has the California plan’s essential flaws, and more.
. . .
State Issue 2 is an amateur production. Those who designed it — the League of Women Voters and several law professors — should have recognized the importance of enlisting allies from both sides of the aisle, yet they failed to build a bipartisan base of support. Instead, the measure is being financed overwhelmingly by labor unions and supported by Democrats smarting from the 2010 elections when Republicans reclaimed control of state government and of the Apportionment Board that draws state legislative districts.
It’s a tempting argument. But Issue 2 isn’t a piece of legislation that can be passed, then fixed by the General Assembly.
Issue 2, whose cumbersome mechanisms could invite lawsuits, would go into the Ohio Constitution — and amending that is, quite rightly, a difficult process.
So we urge a “no” vote on Issue 2.
. . .
Yes, Ohio needs reapportionment reform. But it can do better than Issue 2.
Our view is the appointed slate of people approach isn’t less likely to be prone to manipulation, and it might be rife with it in the future.
- (Apparently) Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, “Proposed constitutional amendment isn’t the way to fix gerrymandering” (not available on the newspaper’s Web site without subscription)
Democrats’ involvement is hypocritical — they declined to back a better reform proposal before they lost the 2010 election — and it suggests the potential for manipulation of the process. California adopted a similar approach in 2008 only to see Democratic operatives co-opt it. Republicans would behave the same way if the shoe were on the other foot.
Not only is redistricting impossible to protect from politics, it shouldn’t be. Only when voters elect the people who control redistricting can they hold them responsible for it. If voters don’t like the result, they can elect somebody else.
- Ohio Judicial Conference (“The Voice of Ohio Judges”) “voted to recommend against passage of Issue 2 on the November 2012 ballot and to adopt the position of the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) regarding this matter.”
OSCPA’s Executive Board voted Tuesday to oppose Issue 2, a constitutional amendment that would change how Ohio’s legislative districts are determined. The vote came in response to a unanimous recommendation from the Society’s Governmental Affairs Advisory Council. That body conducted face-to-face interviews with organizations representing the pro and con sides of the issue.
Price urges OSCPA members to reject Issue 2 and instead encourage our elected officials to keep working on a more responsible approach.
- Ohio Chamber of Commerce, “Ohio Chamber Opposes State Issue 2 — Calls it Seriously Flawed: Also Opposes State Issue 1“
- Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce: “The two government reform ballot issues, State Issue 2 and City of Cincinnati Issue 4, would significantly reduce voter accountability.”
The Chamber opposes the issue because it is not bi-partisan, places judges in a partisan situation, and undermines the ‘separation of powers’ doctrine in the constitution. Instead, the organization supports sensible reforms to Ohio’s redistricting and reapportionment process that would provide accountability and enable voters to rely on fair legislative and congressional districts.
The Ohio redistricting amendment, if passed, will through a cumbersome process establish a 12-person commission to draw General Assembly and congressional districts following the decennial census. If passed, Issue 2 would replace elected officials with an unelected and unaccountable commission with unlimited funds to redraw congressional and General Assembly district lines, while excluding many hard working Ohioans from serving on the commission. For these reasons, the Dayton Chamber has officially opposed Issue 2 and urges a “no” vote.
Today, the Ohio Right to Life Board of Trustees announced its unanimous vote in opposition to State Issue 2 . . . .
“Ohio Right to Life strongly opposes Issue 2 and urges every pro-life Ohioan to vote ‘no’ on this attempt by special interest groups to take away our right to vote,” said Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis.
. . .
Ohio Right to Life’s Mike Gonidakis debated the negative consequences of Issue 2 recently with Sunny 95’s Clark Donley. Click HERE to listen to the audio recording of this debate.
- Citizens for Community Values Action:
- Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, “There Should be Balance: Ohio Cattlemen’s Association encourages its members to study Issue 2 and vote no.”
See more organizations opposed to Issue 2 at Protect Your Vote.com.