Gerrymandering a threat to Ohio veterans, Gold Star families. “We know the price of freedom.

As we celebrate Memorial Day Monday and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, it’s imperative to reflect on the importance of fair representation and the integrity of our electoral system.

The recent gerrymandering in Ohio, one of the most manipulated states in the nation, has undermined the democratic process and the will of the people. It’s time for a change, and the Citizens Not Politicians Amendment offers a promising solution.

This is a time when we honor and remember those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. For most citizens, it marks the start of summer, celebrated with backyard cookouts and evening fireworks across the nation.

It’s a long weekend for gathering with friends and family in the warmth of late spring. Some will attend their community’s parades to honor our military and its ranks that have fallen in service to the country. Most have not served nor felt the grief that the ultimate sacrifice brings to the families of lost service members: mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters dead and lost to this life. My family is such a family.

We know the price of freedom.

We understand personal loss.

For the last fifteen years, we have observed Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery.

I will be there Monday, remembering the life of my brother and the lives of my brothers-in-arms buried near him. The sacrifice of their lives while preserving our freedoms—the right to vote, equality of opportunity for all citizens, and the rule of law—demands that citizens, not legislators, determine the future direction of our state and country.

According to The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy, Ohio is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation.

Between January and May 2022, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down five separate iterations of the legislative maps, each time ruling that the maps were unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders.

Despite the state Supreme Court siding with the pro-voting groups on five separate occasions and requiring redraws of the maps, the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to submit constitutionally compliant maps to the court. As a result, Ohioans voted under unconstitutional legislative maps during the 2022 midterm elections.

Politicians and back-room insiders disregarded the court and the will of the people by repeatedly submitting maps that were rejected as unconstitutional. Then, in 2023, politicians from both parties met behind closed doors and struck a deal to impose new gerrymandered maps.

Establishment politicians have proven that they cannot be trusted to draw fair legislative districts using an open and transparent process. A broad nonpartisan coalition of Ohio citizens has come together to end gerrymandering by proposing the Citizens Not Politicians Amendment to our state constitution.

The proposed legislation would replace the current politician-dominated commission with a 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission that would include Republican, Independent, and Democratic voters. It bans current and recent political officeholders, those with strong political ties, and lobbyists from drawing maps and makes it unconstitutional to draw maps that favor one party.

Petitioners must collect 413,487 valid voter signatures by July 3, 2024, to place it on the 2024 general election ballot. Signing those petitions would be a patriotic and honorable way to remember the sacrifice of those who have fought to protect our representative form of government. 

I am a combat veteran who fought for my country on foreign lands, believing that I was sacrificing for the greater cause of preserving freedoms given and maintained by constitutional rule of law. The effects of gerrymandering impact how my vote is counted and have enhanced divisions where compromise is seen as weakness, creating a political environment reminiscent of the Cold War acronym MAD (mutual assured destruction). 

The eyes of the fallen, who perished preserving the right to vote, are watching.

Politicians can’t look beyond their personal or their party’s interests. I support the amendment because I believe citizens, not politicians, should draw district maps to safeguard our right to fair elections and representative government on this Memorial Day and beyond.

Read more here.