Ohio voters could change the redistricting process. Again.

When former Republican Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor retired from the Court at the end of 2022 after a record amount of years in service to the Buckeye State, she didn’t waste time getting back to work.

O’Connor, now 72, began her career on the state’s highest court in 2003 and retired due to constitutionally mandated age limits as the longest-serving statewide elected woman in Ohio history. She led the fight against gerrymandering during her final year on the Bench—ruling seven times that GOP-backed state legislative and congressional maps were unconstitutional. But after leaving the Court, her fight was only just beginning. After five long days of relaxation, O’Connor dove head-first into a nonpartisan, citizen-led initiative to overhaul the state’s redistricting process.

“I told people that I was gonna take four months off and do absolutely nothing, because I’ve never done that in my adult life,” O’Connor said in an interview with National Journal. “I had my first redistricting meeting on January 5, and I retired on December 31. I did not get four months off to do absolutely nothing.”

O’Connor is part of the Citizens Not Politicians campaign, which is currently in the process of collecting over 413,487 valid signatures by July 3 to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

The proposed amendment would replace the current redistricting commission, led by politicians, with a 15-member citizen-led commission. The body would be composed of five Democrats, five Republicans, and five independent citizens, who represent the geographic and demographic diversity of the state, and would prohibit any current or former or politicians, political party officials, or lobbyists from serving. In addition to the new makeup of the commission, the amendment also requires “fair and impartial” congressional and state legislative maps by making it unconstitutional to draw districts that would favor or discriminate against a political party or politician, and would require the citizen commission to operate under an “open and independent process” by holding public meetings and abiding by public records laws. A similar system has been implemented in Michigan.

If the amendment makes the ballot, a vote this fall would mark the third time in nine years that Ohioans have amended the state’s redistricting process.

In 2015 and 2018, voters overwhelmingly approved two separate amendments that laid the groundwork for the current redistricting process for drawing state legislative and congressional lines. While the amendments were billed as bipartisan efforts to end partisan gerrymandering, the result was a process led by Republicans—the dominant party in the state.

The current seven-member redistricting commission is composed of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, and the four general assembly majority and minority leaders, or their designees. The current system was put to the test by the most recent redistricting process that involved multiple drawings of both the legislative and congressional maps that were deemed unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

“The amendment’s fatal flaw was its lack of an enforcement mechanism. The GOP majority simply stuck by its map, ignored the court’s orders and waited for a change in the court’s composition, which happened in the November 2022 election,” Mike Curtin, a former Democratic state representative and publisher of The Columbus Dispatch, wrote in an April opinion piece.

Read the full piece here.