Issues > Ohio Legislature: Elections and Voting Reforms

Husted and DeWine lose appeal; 'Golden Week' to be reinstated

Ohio Democratic Party Statement on
Ruling to Keep “Golden Week” for
Nov. 8 General Election

6.09.16 - COLUMBUS⎯⎯Today, Judge Michael Watson issued an order rejecting Secretary of State Jon Husted’s request to stay last month’s ruling reinstating “Golden Week” for the Nov. 8 general election.  As the Ohio Democratic Party had argued, Judge Watson concluded that enacting a stay as Husted requested would potentially harm voters.

“Another day, another loss in court for Jon Husted and Mike DeWine,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Their endless appeals and self-pitying statements are doing nothing but sowing confusion and wasting taxpayer dollars, while they ignore the underlying problem that the legislature has passed a series of laws that violate the Constitution.  The Ohio Democratic Party will continue working to promote a system of elections that is accessible, open, and fair, and ensures that every eligible person can cast a vote and that every lawfully cast vote is counted.”

Click here to read Judge Michael Watson's ruling.

 

Ohio Democratic Party Statement on
DeWine and Husted Filing Motion to Stay “Golden Week” Decision

5.31.16 - COLUMBUS ⎯⎯The Ohio Democratic Party released the following statement today from Chairman David Pepper in response to Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted filing a motion to stay last week’s ruling restoring “Golden Week.”  Their argument in today’s filing was that the decision to restore “Golden Week” as it previously existed “risks harm” to Ohio voters and will breed “voter confusion.”

“It’s bad enough that Jon Husted and Mike DeWine are defending a change that a federal court has found to have a clear discriminatory impact against Ohio’s African-American voters,” said Pepper. “But even George Orwell would blush at the claim that voters will be ‘harmed’ and ‘confused’ by having an additional week of voting. If there is a risk of harm and confusion, it stems from the elimination of a week of voting that was widely understood and used over the past decade by so many Ohio voters.  Instead of insulting voters with their twisted arguments, Husted and DeWine should get to work implementing the order and ensuring Ohio has a discrimination-free election.”

The longer period of voting that included “Golden Week” was the law in Ohio in the 2008 and 2012 cycles when 60,000 and 80,000 Ohioans voted in that week, respectively before the legislature eliminated it in 2014.

 

Ohio Democratic Party Calls on Gov. John Kasich to Veto Senate Bill 296

5.26.16 - COLUMBUS ⎯⎯ The Ohio Democratic Party released the following statement from Chairman David Pepper calling on Gov. John Kasich to veto Senate Bill 296, which passed the Ohio House today, and places new restrictions on Ohio voters by requiring a cash bond to keep polling locations open on Election Day:

“As yesterday’s decision on Golden Week shows, this legislature never learns. Hopefully Governor Kasich will,” said Pepper. “Senate Bill 296 is another sad attempt by the GOP to limit the rights of Ohio voters. No voter⎯⎯regardless of political affiliation⎯⎯should be required to pay the equivalent of a whopping poll tax to assert their legal right to vote in a court of law.  I call on Kasich to veto this twisted and unnecessary bill as soon as it hits his desk.”

 

Ohio Democratic Party Statement on
DeWine and Husted Appealing “Golden Week” Decision

5.26.16 - COLUMBUS — Ohio Democratic Party released the following statement from Chairman David Pepper on today’s announcement that Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted plan to appeal this week’s ruling restoring “Golden Week.”

“Jon Husted and Mike DeWine keep losing in court and wasting Ohioans’ tax dollars, all in an effort to make it harder for Ohio voters to cast a ballot. In this case, they are defending a law that clear data showed imposed a stark discriminatory impact on Ohio’s African-American voters. They are now rushing to defend that blatant discrimination at a higher level. It’s a sad day.”

 

Ohio Democratic Party Statement
on Restoration of “Golden Week” in Ohio

5.24.16 - COLUMBUS — The Ohio Democratic Party (ODP) released the following statement from Chairman David Pepper in response to Judge Michael Watson’s judgment and final order released today restoring “Golden Week” for Ohio voters, in a case brought by the ODP, Cuyahoga County Democratic Party and Montgomery County Democratic Party.

Judge Watson found that eliminating “Golden Week” imposed a disproportionate burden on African-American voters, and the judge’s order states that eliminating “Golden Week” was unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act because of the burden it placed on African-American voters.

“Today’s decision is a huge win for Ohio voters, who will now have the original window for early voting restored, along with ability to register to vote and cast their ballot on the same day,” said Pepper. “In 2012, more than 80,000 Ohioans cast a ballot during ‘Golden Week,’ and of those, more than 14,000 were new or updated registrations.

“It’s a shame that once again our legislature, governor, attorney general and secretary of state cannot figure out how to abide by the constitutional rights of their own voters. The judge found no merit in any of their justifications for the burden they placed on African American voters. How many losses in court, and how many wasted tax dollars, are going to convince them to respect Ohioans’ right to vote?”

From the findings of fact:

“EIP [early in-person] voting in homogenous black blocks was 4.316 times higher than homogenous white blocks in 2008… 4.4476 times higher in 2012… usage rates of Golden Week specifically were far higher among African Americans than among whites in both 2008 and 2012… In other words, in 2008, for example, ‘the rate of voting early in person during golden week is three and a half times greater in homogenous black blocks than homogenous white blocks.’”

Click here to read the findings of fact.

Click here to read the judgment order.

 

 

 

 

This is urgent.
We need 5,000 signatures to send a message
to the GOP to end their efforts
to make it harder to vote.
Add your name today!


5.18.16 - We’ve seen the GOP’s scheme to win elections play out in states across the country. They pass laws to discourage voters who don’t agree with them -- and Republicans openly admit they’re doing this for partisan political gain.

We need to stand up and say NO MORE!

Right here in Ohio, Senate Republicans just passed a bill that would create a modern-day poll tax. Legislative Democrats are fighting back, but they need your support to keep up the fight.

Join Democrats and raise your voice
to say NO MORE to the GOP’s attacks
on our sacred right to vote!
Add your name right away!

 

Kathleen Clyde: Switch to online voter registration now

4.12.16 - Back in 2002, there were no smartphones or iPhones yet. Friends was still on TV. Men in Black and Austin Powers were in the movie theaters. And Arizona was the first state to adopt online voter registration. Fourteen years later, 31 other states and the District of Columbia have enacted online voter registration, but Ohio is not one of them. We still make our list of voters the old-fashioned, messy, error-prone way: with paper, pens, mail and staff laboriously typing it all into a county database.

Four years ago, before the 2012 presidential election, Secretary of State Jon Husted began offering online voter registration, but he only made it available for address updates by those who are already registered to vote. I’ve urged him many times to open the system to all Ohioans — including new registrants.StateRepKClyde - Photo

Current Ohio law provides a single process for both new registrations and updates. And because an update is the same thing as a new registration under the law, there is no legal reason to allow updates online but not new registrations.

The benefits of online voter registration are huge. They include greater accessibility for voters, convenience for election officials, cost-savings, greater speed and accuracy in processing, and the ability to link to this system from every government website.

In addition, online voter registration eliminates many of the problems that exist with our antiquated system including printer and processing errors, postage costs, slow mail delivery and postmark glitches. So to me, the move to online voter registration just makes sense. There is just no reason to let these sorts of problems continue to affect the making of the list of who can vote in Ohio, particularly when a system to allow online voter registration is already in place.

So when Secretary Husted recently came to testify in my House committee, I again urged him to switch it on for all Ohioans. But he said no, claiming that he did not have the authority to give everyone online registration because he needed a new law to transfer a signature from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Yet this argument rings hollow because signatures are required for voter registration updates which the secretary currently allows to be done online.

In addition, Secretary Husted could accept signatures in multiple other ways. Delaware, for example, allows voters to provide their signature through the BMV, by signing a tablet computer screen or by sending a photo of the signature. And, finally, allowing online voter registration is not the kind of action that requires new legislation. Several states that have implemented or enacted online voter registration have done so without new legislation — including our close neighbor Pennsylvania.

Of course, if we want to continue to live with the current problems in an outdated system, we could wait for new legislation. And I have indicated that I would support legislative action if it was done expeditiously. But the legislature, like the secretary, has been dragging its feet on this issue without any real reason.

So at this point it is simply irresponsible for Secretary Husted to wait for the legislature to pass a law that is not needed in order to switch on online voter registration that is exactly what Ohio needs. There is too much at stake.

In this presidential election year, Ohio will once again face intense scrutiny regarding its voting system. So it is especially important that we in Ohio make sure that we are at the forefront of effective, efficient and inclusive election reform and not at the bottom of the ladder.

Secretary Husted could switch on online voter registration for Ohio, joining 31 other states and the District of Columbia. And with that one switch he could move Ohio into the modern era. It is the responsible and lawful thing to do.

Sometimes it is fun to think back. Reruns of Friends are still great to watch and Men in Black and Austin Powers still make us laugh. But there is nothing nostalgic in re-running old election errors. On that issue, it is time for us to think forward.

Secretary Husted should Switch It On for all Ohioans.

Clyde represents the 75th District in the Ohio House.
The district covers Kent, Ravenna and the rest of southern Portage County.

 

Judge: 17-year-olds can vote in Ohio primary

3.11.16 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio judge issued an order to allow 17-year-olds to vote in swing state's presidential primary.

16-2346 Judgment Mandamus Mar 16
Directive 2016-08 - Issued Pursuant to Court Order (17 Year Old Voters)
17-Year-Old Voter Instructions

Ohio allows 17-year-olds who will be 18 before the fall election to vote in Tuesday's primary, with some limits. For instance, they can't vote on ballot issues, but can decide on congressional, legislative and mayoral contenders.

Whether the teens can vote in the presidential primary race had been under dispute.

The state's Republican elections chief had said Ohio rules don't permit it. He says the 17-year-olds can only nominate candidates, and not "elect" delegates to a presidential nominating convention.

Nine teen voters had sued over Secretary of State Jon Husted's interpretation.

On Friday, a Franklin County judge granted the teens' request to block Husted's instructions that forbid the 17-year-olds from voting in the presidential primary.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted released the following statement regarding today’s ruling in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas decision to overrule state law and reverse decades of election law precedent by allowing 17-year-olds to cast ballots in Ohio’s 2016 Presidential Primary Election:

“This last minute legislating from the bench on election law has to stop. Our system cannot give one county court the power to change 30 years of election law for the entire state of Ohio, 23 days into early voting and only four days before an election.”

Husted also said he planned to appeal the ruling. but later Friday evening, Husted released another statement, saying he would not appeal.

Ohio's elections chief now says he won't appeal a judge's ruling that allows 17-year-olds to vote in the swing state's presidential primary. The move from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted comes after a state appeals court had set a Monday hearing in the case ahead of Tuesday's election.

Husted spokesman Josh Eck tells The Associated Press that does not leave enough time for officials to properly administer the election for the 17-year-old voters. He says, for the sake of good elections, the secretary of state won't appeal the ruling.

The Ohio Democratic Party released the following statement today in response to the ruling against Secretary of State Jon Husted by Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye allowing registered voters who will be 18 before the general election to vote for their chosen presidential candidate:

“We were confident that Secretary Husted’s directive barring young Ohioans from voting for their chosen presidential candidate would not hold up in court, but it's still a shame it came to this,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.

“We urge Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine not to appeal this ruling. Young Ohioans deserve to have a say in whom they want to lead our country. The Ohio Democratic Party will continue to support greater voter participation -- regardless of party. We’ve never solved a problem with less democracy.”

 

Clyde Issues Statement On Lawsuit Challenging Disenfranchisement Of 17-year-old Voters

3.08.16 - State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) issued the following statement in response to a lawsuit brought by a number of eligible 17-year-old voters challenging Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s directive to exclude them from presidential primary voting:
 
“Ohio law is clear and has permitted those who will be 18 years old before the November election to vote in the presidential primary since 1981. Disenfranchising eligible voters is wrong, creates confusion, and drives people away from the voting process. I applaud these extraordinary young Ohioans in their fight to be able to vote in our state’s presidential primary.”
 
A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.

 

Clyde Criticizes New, Backroom Attack On
Student Access To Polls

3.04.16 - State Representative Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) says latest attack on voters’ rights prevents young people from having say in direction of their country.

State Representative Clyde today issued a response to Secretary of State Jon Husted’s directive thatOhio Voters Bill of Rights - Logo excludes 17-year-olds from presidential primary voting. Ohio has
permitted those who will be 18 years old before the November election to vote in the presidential primary since 1981.

“I was astonished to learn that 17-year-old Ohioans who will legally become adults before the November election are now being prohibited from having a say in the direction of their country at the presidential ballot box during the primary. Ohio’s pro-voter practice that welcomes young adults into the process has been on the books since 1981,” said Clyde.

After examining current law and past directives, Clyde says no precedent exists for Husted’s new voter exclusion. The new order that excludes 17-year-olds from voting for a presidential nominee is here on page 7-6. The non-partisan elections advocacy group Fair Vote also disagrees with Husted’s new decree.

“Secretary Husted’s latest underhanded, backroom attack on our most fundamental freedom should have us all concerned – about this and about his repeated claims he has made it easier to vote in Ohio – when in fact he continues to find ways to make it harder,” Clyde continued.

Rep. Clyde has also repeatedly asked Secretary Husted to use his authority under current law to switch on online voter registration for all Ohioans, and to fix the growing problem of rejecting ballots due to postmark problems.

 

Secretary of State, Democratic Rep Spar Over
Online Voter Registration Bill
 | State News

1.12.16 - The state’s elections chief says he needs lawmakers to approve an online voter registration process. But a Democrat who wants that job says she disagrees.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted says because a signature is required to register to vote in Ohio, he needs lawmakers to order the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to share signatures of those registering to vote online.

But Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) says other states are doing online registration without legislative action, and if voters can change their addresses online, they should be able to register online too. “We should switch it on," she said to Husted during a hearing in a House committee. "I just think we’ve seen too many states go – the next frontier is automatic voter registration.”

Husted jumped in: “You keep saying that, but I don’t have the authority to do that. I don’t have the authority to just do things the way I want to do them."

Clyde, who may run for Secretary of State when the term-limited Husted leaves, says the bill might be a delaying tactic. But Husted says the bill needs to pass soon to be in place for the fall presidential vote.

 

Online voter registration gets approval from Ohio Senate
By Robert Higgs, Northeast Ohio Media Group

6.24.15 - COLUMBUS, Ohio -- By a nearly unanimous vote, 31-1, the Ohio Senate approved making voter registration in the state available online.

The bill, introduced by Republican Sen. Frank LaRose of Summit County, would require the secretary of state to develop an online voter registration system using the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' database and other state records to verify a voter's identity.

"This will be the first time in history, or recent history, that the methodology for registration has changed in such a profound way," LaRose said. It would allow for an online system that is "accurate and secure, as well as efficient and accessible," he said.

Applicants would have to input information matching their data with the BMV to be able to register. The system also would allow voters to declare themselves as a member of a political party, if they choose.

Sen. Michael Skindell, a Democrat from Lakewood, was the lone no vote. He opposed the bill in committee, too, and said afterward that among his concerns was the use of data collected by other state agencies as part of the database. That could create privacy concerns, he said.

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.

Even if approved, voters still would be able to register to vote via the current traditional paper forms.

"Of course, this won't eliminate the paper system," LaRose said. "If you like using what I call the dead tree method, you're more than welcome to keep doing that."

Currently, Ohio registered voters can update their addresses online through the secretary of state's website.

Secretary of State Jon Husted has long lobbied lawmakers to approve online voter registration, citing efficiency and cost savings while making voter registration more accessible to the public. But some of his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly have been reluctant to open up registration online.

Husted has said online registration could save county boards of elections between 50 cents and $1 per registration. Between 2010 and 2012, Ohio processed about 3 million paper registration forms, which could have saved between $1.5 million and $3 million.

He praised the bill Wednesday after the Senate vote.

"This is another step in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Ohio by improving voter access and implementing additional security measures," Husted said. "I look forward to working with the members of the Ohio House to see the proposal become a reality."

 

Legislators propose online voter registration in Ohio
By Associated Press | 

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Residents in swing state Ohio could register to vote online under separate proposals introduced in the Legislature.

One measure from state Sen. Frank LaRose would direct the state to implement an online registration system. Residents could also still register using the current paper process.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (HYOO’-sted) has long supported online voter registration. He praised the Senate bill’s introduction Wednesday, saying in a statement that it would save the state money.

State Rep. Michael Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat, has introduced a similar bill in the House.

Online registration was part of a contentious election bill in 2011 but was later repealed. Currently, Ohio voters can update their addresses on the Internet.

LaRose, a Copley Republican, says in a statement that 24 states have authorized online registration.

Additional articles:


Improve Voter Registration
Online sign-ups could improve election accuracy and confidence
Editorial | The Columbus Dispatch | 5.21.13

In an age when people routinely entrust high-value commercial transactions to the Internet, objections to online registration are less and less convincing.

Read more of the article here.

 

ODP State Executive Committee STRONGLY opposes any attempt to limit
access to or the ability of voters when exercising their right to vote

3.17.13 - During a meeting held prior to the 2013 Legacy Dinner, the Ohio Democratic Party's State Executive Committee passed - unanimously - the following resolution:

  • Whereas, the Ohio Democratic Party supports the right to vote as a fundamental right of every American; and
  • Whereas, the Ohio Democratic Party is committed to promoting the exercise of the right to vote by all eligible Ohio voters and to ensuring that their votes are accurately counted, and to ensuring that access to voting is expanded, not further constrained; and
  • Whereas, the Ohio Democratic Party is committed to opposing any further efforts under the guise of so-called voter fraud to restrict or discourage voting by imposing more limitations on the hours and locations for voting; and
  • Whereas, there are efforts by the Republicans to try to limit the number of days that voters may vote early; to eliminate the "Golden Week" where eligible voters can register to vote and vote early at one time; to establish voting centers that would drastically reduce and consolidate the voting locations, leading to longer waits for voters and parking difficulties on Election Day; and to impose even more onerous identification requirements such as photo identification;
  • Therefore, Let It Be Resolved that the Ohio Democratic Party strongly opposes any attempt to reduce access by voters to early voting and any effort to limit the ability of voters to exercise their right to vote by eliminating voting locations or imposing additional or more onerous identification requirements.

    Adopted:  March 15, 2013

Ohio Elections Chief Tries To Tie Immigration To Voter Fraud

 Ohio Elections Chief Tries To Tie Immigration To Voter Fraud
By Kira Lerner & Aviva Shen | ThinkProgress | February 

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) has made undocumented immigrants the latest target in his ongoing effort to suppress votes. In a letter sent last week, Husted argues that President Obama’s recent executive actions on immigration will lead to non-citizens registering to vote, which would have “lasting implications for the integrity of our elections.”

According to Husted, Obama’s order granting deportation reprieve to millions of undocumented immigrants will allow them to obtain Social Security numbers or driver’s licenses and opens the possibility that they could register to vote.

“In spite of our diligence maintaining accurate voter registration rolls, however, the recent executive actions could jeopardize their integrity by making it much easier for people who are not U.S. citizens to illegally register and cast ballots,” Husted wrote.

Conservatives have long tried to tie immigration reform to potential voter fraud. True the Vote, a Tea Party poll watcher group, first attacked the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill as a “golden opportunity” for immigrants to “undermine our electoral system.” The line was quickly taken up by Republican lawmakers.

Those like Husted who claim undocumented immigrants could influence elections continue to cite a study suggesting that non-citizen voting could determine the 2014 election. But the research has largely been debunked, and the study’s authors acknowledged the limitations of their findings.

Ten states and Washington, DC have made all undocumented immigrants eligible to apply for driver’s license cards. Forty-five states, including Ohio, have allowed driver’s licenses for those undocumented youths who qualify for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Supporters say allowing immigrants to apply for licenses could make roads safer. However, the cards do not allow recipients to vote.

Efforts in several states to catch non-citizens voting illegally ahead of the 2012 election turned up virtually no offenders. In Ohio, Husted reported 17 cases of non-citizens who voted in the 2012 election — .0003 percent of total ballots cast in the state.

Even Husted has admitted non-citizen voting isn’t a problem in Ohio, although he claims he has to be extra vigilant because of Ohio’s position as a swing state.

“It is not a huge problem, but it is a problem that exists and we don’t have a good way to check against it now,” he told reporters.

Husted’s letter suggests he may use the specter of non-citizen voting to crack down on third-party voter registration, often a crucial get-out-the-vote tool for black and Latino communities with low voter turnout. “Such drives occur outside of the presence of election officials who could explain that citizenship—not mere lawful presence—is a fundamental requirement for registering to vote and who can caution non-citizens against erroneous attestations,” Husted wrote.

Florida and Texas have already targeted third-party voter registration drives, even after federal judges found the law unconstitutionally suppressed voting rights. Husted himself admitted in 2013 that there was no evidence that voter registration drives were plotting to register non-citizens to vote.

Even as he has dismissed the idea that voter fraud is an epidemic in Ohio, Husted has repeatedly fought to restrict voting. He became an infamous figure in the 2012 election for his efforts to cut early voting, going so far as to defy a court order requiring early voting hours to be restored in 2012. In 2014, Husted agreed to join an error-riddledmulti-state voter purge database which he claims would prevent voters from casting ballots in multiple states during an election.

Meanwhile, some cities are actually trying to let some non-citizens vote in local elections, reasoning that a significant portion of their residents are unable to vote on matters that impact their daily lives.

Redistricting reform passes Ohio House in bipartisan vote

Redistricting reform passes Ohio House in bipartisan vote
By Jackie Borchardt | Northeast Ohio Media Group | December 04, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Republicans and Democrats reached agreement Thursday evening to change how the state draws legislative districts.

The Ohio House passed the bipartisan plan in an 80-4 vote Thursday night after hours of deliberation behind closed doors and weeks of deliberation among both parties and chambers about how to improve what has become a hyper partisan process yielding uncompetitive districts.

Rep. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican who sponsored the legislation, said the current process has allowed the majority to abuse its power every time it held the pen.

"What this process does is provide a series of disincentives to the majority to do that," Huffman said.

The proposal now goes to the Senate, which is considering its own redistricting reform plan.

Currently, a five-member apportionment board composed of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state and two members of the legislature draws new legislative boundaries every 10 years coinciding with the U.S. Census. The current panel comprises four Republicans and one Democrat.

House Joint Resolution 12, passed Thursday, would add two lawmakers -- one each from the majority and minority parties -- to the panel. Four votes, including at least two from minority party members, would be needed to approve a map. A map that doesn't receive minority support would still go into effect, but for four years instead of 10, allowing a new panel to redraw the lines.

The resolution also sets rules that respect geographical boundaries and political subdivisions to guide the panel drawing the districts. Maps could not be drawn "primarily to favor or disfavor a political party" and the proportion of districts leaning toward one party or another must resemble the whole state's preferences in recent elections. In 2012, House Democrats received 51 percent of total votes statewide, but the current legislative map favors Republicans in 62 of 99 House seats, according to analysis by the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

Voters would have to approve the plan in 2015 for it to become part of the Ohio Constitution.

Democrats supported the measure but said more could be done to ensure redistricting favors voters and not politics. Rep. Vernon Sykes, an Akron Democrat, said the bill was not all the things he wanted but is a significant improvement from the current system. Sykes said the plan will keep communities together, is more transparent and protects minority interests.

"Both sides put good ideas on the table and we negotiated and put together the best bundle of good ideas we could come up with to improve the process for the citizens of the state," Sykes said on the House floor.

Rep. Ron Hood, an Ashville Republican, opposed the plan because he said the panel would only draw four-year maps, making the process more political.

"The political abuse we're going to see in the future over this plan is going to be phenomenal," Hood said. "This plan makes the majority more powerful and really does more to silence the minority."

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who advocated for redistricting reform as a state representative, praised lawmakers for reaching a bipartisan agreement before the end of the legislative session.

Husted raised one concern with the plan: The panel's four legislators could approve a map without votes from the statewide elected officials.

"This proposal would grant the legislature a new and exclusive constitutional right to draw their own maps without any outside check and balance on this power," Husted said in a statement. "The good news is that it may be easily remedied either through requiring a five-member super majority vote to pass a map, or by requiring that one of the four votes come from one of the statewide elected officials represented on the commission."

GOP lawmakers had abandoned an effort to change how the state draws congressional boundaries while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Arizona's congressional redistricting process.

 

EDITORIAL:  Redistricting plan ready to go
The Akron Beacon Journal
Posted:  Wednesday, December 26, 2012 7:12 am | Updated: 7:45 am, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

In the lame-duck session of the Ohio Legislature, state senators gave welcome, near-unanimous approval to a simple, practical plan to reform the way Ohio redraws congressional and legislative districts. Although the Ohio House did not have time to act, the Senate set the stage for quick movement early next year.

The 32-1 vote showed bipartisan support for the work of a legislative task force. Instead of the approach taken by proponents of state Issue 2, an overly complicated measure that would have created a citizens commission, the task force wisely followed the work of Jon Husted, the secretary of state, when he was a member of Senate. Voters soundly defeated Issue 2 on the November ballot.

What emerged from the Senate is based on the reality that it is impossible to remove politics from an inherently political exercise. The Senate plan for a constitutional amendment would expand the board now charged with creating legislative districts, giving it the task of congressional redistricting, too. That is now done by the legislature.

The new Ohio Redistricting Commission would include the governor, auditor and secretary of state. Instead of two legislative members, from opposite parties, the commission would include four appointees, one each from the speaker and minority leader of the House and the president and minority leader of the Senate.

None could be sitting members of the legislature.

To force compromise, five votes would be needed to pass a redistricting plan, with one vote required from the minority party.

That would force compromise, ending the possibility (as happened after the 2010 census) of one party in the majority dictating gerrymandered lines designed to maximize its partisan advantage.

It is now up to the House. Outgoing Speaker William Batchelder would like to see redistricting reform handled by a constitutional commission, and the League of Women Voters is studying another ballot issue. Both involve the risks of needless complexity and delay. The best course is for state lawmakers to start over quickly in the new session, the House embracing the Senate’s concept, a proposed amendment on the ballot next November.

 

What is redistricting?

The process for drawing legislative district boundaries in Ohio allows the party with control of reapportionment, Republicans or Democrats, to draw those lines in ways that protect its incumbent officeholders and advance its own interests. Partisan redistricting in Ohio has negative consequences, including uncompetitive legislative elections, over-representation of the dominant party in the legislature, and greater polarization in state government.