New amendment will put Ohio citizens, not politicians, in charge of mapmaking

Former politicians, lobbyists, and party officials will be banned from serving on new citizens redistricting commission

Columbus, OH—With a goal of creating fair and impartial districts in Ohio, one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, the committee Citizens Not Politicians today filed a statewide ballot initiative to eliminate the state’s politician-dominated commission for drawing state and federal legislative districts. The constitutional amendment would instead create a 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission (OCRC), with members selected by citizens, not politicians. The OCRC would be made up of Democrats, Republicans and independent Ohio voters.

Currently, the process of redistricting is controlled by politicians who are able to draw districts that all but ensure their own re-election. This amendment puts an end to that by banning current and recent political officeholders, those with strong political party or campaign ties, and lobbyists from participating in the process, and instead empowers Ohio citizens by creating the OCRC and requiring the Commission to draw fair maps through an open and independent process.

The amendment, titled An amendment to replace the current politician-run redistricting process with a citizen-led commission required to create fair legislative and congressional districts through a more open and independent system, was filed today with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, with plans to place the proposal on the 2024 statewide general election ballot.

“When politicians draw biased, often ridiculously-shaped districts to favor their own political interests, that’s gerrymandering,” said OCRC advocate Maureen O’Connor, recently retired longtime Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. “Ohio is one of the country’s most gerrymandered states, and even today, is operating under maps deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. This proposal would end gerrymandering by empowering citizens, not politicians, to draw fair districts using an open and independent process.”

“This plan locks politicians and lobbyists out of what’s now a self-interested backroom, and instead requires decisions to be made in an open process conducted by Ohio citizens,” said OCRC advocate, Yvette McGee Brown, also a former Ohio Supreme Court justice. “The politicians who control the current redistricting commission have ignored the will of Ohioans who want a fair and honest system. The only way to get a fair outcome for Ohioans is to remove political insiders from the process.”

McGee Brown was referencing Ohio’s most recent redistricting process. In a year-long process which began in September 2021, the current Republican-controlled redistricting commission—made up of lawmakers and elected officials— submitted five legislative maps and two congressional maps, none of which had bipartisan support and all of which were rejected as unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. Ultimately, a panel of federal judges allowed a set of unconstitutional maps to go forward for the 2022 election.

The amendment will: 

  • Create the 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission made up of Democratic, Republican, and independent citizens who broadly represent the different geographic areas and demographics of the state. 
  • Require fair and impartial districts by making it unconstitutional to draw voting districts that discriminate against or favor any political party or individual politician.
  • Require the commission to operate under an open and independent process. 
  • Ban current or former politicians, political party officials, lobbyists, and large political donors from sitting on the Commission.

The amendment and summary can be found here.

The Ohio Attorney General has 10 days to determine if the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment. Once the petition is certified, the Attorney General forwards it to the Ohio Ballot Board, which has 10 days to determine if it contains only one constitutional amendment. After Ballot Board certification, the Attorney General must file a verified copy of the proposed constitutional amendment and summary, along with the Attorney General’s certification, with the Ohio Secretary of State. At that point, the petitioners may begin to collect the required 413,487 valid signatures of registered voters by July 3, 2024 to qualify for the 2024 Ohio General Election Ballot. 

About Citizens Not PoliticiansCitizens Not Politicians is a coalition of people and organizations seeking to end gerrymandering in Ohio by removing politicians from the redistricting process and instead empowering Ohio citizens to draw fair and impartial legislative and congressional districts through an open and independent process.