Over 731K signatures submitted to state in latest push for redistricting reform

An Ohio political group hand delivered more than 731,000 petition signatures to the secretary of state’s doorstep on Monday with the hope that it’s enough to allow Ohioans to vote on redistricting reform this November.

Signature verification by the state is set to follow. At least 413,487 of those signatures need to be valid, and 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties need to be represented by at least 5% of its registered voters, in order to get on the ballot. The question would need to win a simple majority in November in order to be adopted into the state constitution.

“My goal is to ensure that representation is fair,” Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio told this news outlet Monday outside the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office. “What we’ve learned in these decades of extreme gerrymandering in Ohio is the only way that can happen is if politicians and lobbyists are taken out of the equation.”

The League of Women Voters is a notable backer of Citizens Not Politicians, the group behind the proposed constitutional amendment that would scrap Ohio’s current redistricting process — which was instituted by voters through various rounds of constitutional amendments in 2015 and 2018 — and replace it with a 15-member Citizen Redistricting Commission.

The new commission, which backers insist would be nonpartisan and disconnected from politicians’ interests would consist of five Republicans, five Democrats and five unaffiliated registered voters. The panel would meet more often than the Ohio Redistricting Commission is required to and would be bound to do more actions, such as the actual map drawing, in public — a significant diversion from the current process.

“They’re not party operatives, they’re not people who have relationships with elected officials, they’re not people whose family members work for elected officials,” said retired Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican who has become the face of the citizen-initiated amendment. “This is as pure a system as you could possibly get to have citizens, not politicians, draft these maps.”

Read the full article here.