A Constitutional Amendment proposed by Joint Resolution of the General Assembly
League Explanation of Issue 1
The proposed amendment would end the current partisan process for drawing congressional districts by a simple majority vote of the General Assembly. This amendment requires a map be adopted with significant bipartisan support, with the goals of keeping local communities together and having district boundaries that are more compact. If bipartisan support cannot be obtained, a four-year interim congressional map would be adopted. Such a map must comply with strict criteria to minimize gerrymandering.
Specifically the proposed amendment would create a process for the state to adopt a congressional redistricting plan that would work as follows:
- The General Assembly has an opportunity to draw a map, passage of which requires a three-fifths majority in each chamber, including support of at least half the minority party
- Should the state legislature fail to meet these vote requirements, then the Ohio Redistricting Commission, established via Issue 1 in 2015, has the opportunity to pass a 10-year congressional redistricting plan requiring approval of at least four of seven votes, including affirmative votes from two members representing each of the two major parties.
- If the commission also cannot reach the necessary consensus, the legislature can a) pass a map with one-third minority support, or b) pass a map with a simple majority and no minority party support that will only last four years and subject to very strict rules forbidding gerrymandering and limiting division of counties.
If passed, the amendment will immediately become part of the Ohio Constitution and will be implemented after the 2020 census.
League Pros & Cons
- Issue 1 will establish fair standards for drawing congressional districts through its requirement of bipartisan approval or use of strict anti‐gerrymandering criteria.
- It will help keep our communities together by limiting the number of splits of counties, cities, and townships.
- Issue 1 will ensure a transparent process by requiring public hearings and allowing public submission of proposed plans.
- The current process for drawing new congressional districts is adequate and has served Ohio well for many years.
- The current process is representative of the people's will since any map is passed by statewide officials, who were themselves elected.
- If Issue 1 passes, there is the potential for having to redraw district lines every four years, which is a lengthy, expensive process.
The League of Women Voters will continue to gather signatures for the Fair Districts petition until Issue 1 is passed.
Initiative Petition Summary INITIATIVE PETITION To the Attorney General of Ohio: Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code § 3519.01(A), the undersigned electors of the State of Ohio, numbering in excess of one thousand, hereby submit to you the full text of a proposed Amendment to the Ohio Constitution and a summary of the same.
TITLE Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment
SUMMARY The Amendment would amend Article XI of the Ohio Constitution to provide that the redrawing of congressional districts every ten years following the U.S. Census shall be conducted by the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission, which is established in the state constitution and was approved by the voters in 2015 to draw general assembly districts; and to establish rules for drawing congressional districts, including, but not limited to, rules related to prohibiting drawing districts to favor a political party or candidates, keeping communities whole by minimizing splitting of political subdivisions, maximizing statewide representational fairness and minimizing the extent to which the population of districts are not equal.
More specifically, the amendment would, among other things:Authorize the bipartisan redistricting commission approved by the voters of Ohio at the 2015 general election to draw state general assembly districts to also draw U.S. congressional districts. Currently, the state legislature is responsible for drawing congressional districts and bipartisan approval is not required.
- Apply many of the same provisions approved by the voters in 2015 with respect to redrawing of state legislative districts, to congressional districts, including, but not limited to: certain same procedural deadlines; provisions for public hearings; requirements for bipartisan support of commission members to adopt a plan; and provisions for funding and operation of the commission.
- Keep the bipartisan composition of the commission as previously approved by the voters, but prohibit any member of the U.S. Congress from serving as a commission member.
- Require that congressional districts be drawn based on the following criteria:
(a) Compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, including those protecting minority voting rights;
(c) No district plan shall be drawn to favor or disfavor a political party or candidates;
(d) Minimize the number of splits of counties, municipal corporations, and townships, in that order, and where feasible, no county shall be split more than once;
e) Representational fairness based on the statewide partisan preferences of the voters during the previous ten years of statewide general elections in even numbered years; and
If all of the above criteria cannot be feasibly attained, then priority would be in the order in which each criterion is listed.
- Permit any Ohio citizen to submit a proposed congressional district plan for the Commission's consideration, and the Secretary of State to make available to any Ohio citizen the data and computer software needed to draw a proposed plan.
- Vest the Ohio Supreme Court with exclusive, original jurisdiction over court challenges to any congressional district plan.
- Provide that in the event that any congressional district plan made by the Ohio redistricting commission, or any district, is determined to be invalid by an unappealed final order of a court of competent jurisdiction, then, notwithstanding any other provision of the state constitution, the commission shall be reconstituted as provided in Section 1 of Article XI, convene, and ascertain and determine a congressional district plan in conformity with then valid provisions of the state constitution, including establishing terms of office and election of members of Congress from districts designated in the plan, to be used until the next time for redistricting under Article XI.