On Thursday, September 8, the HUC-UC Ethics Center and Common Cause Ohio hosted the Ohio Redistricting Forum at HUC-JIR/Cincinnati. Every ten years, following the completion of the United States Census, Ohio's state and federal political districts are re-drawn. Districts must be adjusted to account for changes in population so that districts are equal in size. The forum highlighted potential opportunities and threats in the 2011 Ohio redistricting process, showcased maps from the Draw the Line Ohio Redistricting Competition and set the stage for future redistricting reform efforts.
“Without reform, this political game threatens voter confidence and encourages the current trend toward hyper-partisanship in our civic dialogue,” warned Greg Rabidoux, the National Director for Redistricting for Common Cause.
In addition to Rabidoux, the audience heard from Ann Henkener, Legislative Director and Board Member for the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Jim Slagle, Director of the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting. Attendees then broke into small groups to design ways to improve Ohio’s redistricting process. Pat Clifford, Stone Senior Fellow at the HUC-UC Ethics Center, moderated the event.
Civic groups have advocated for years to reform Ohio’s redistricting process in order to check the effects of partisan gerrymandering. “Because one political party will always dominate the process, the public perception, and the reality to a large extent, is that politicians pick their voters rather than voters picking their politicians,” said Bill Woods, Chair of Common Cause Ohio’s State Governing Board. There have also been repeated called for a reasonable window for the public to review proposed maps. A group called Draw the Line Ohio has displayed the results of their own redistricting competition--with concrete data on compactness and competitiveness--on its website, www.drawthelineohio.org.
This event was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Cincinnati, Ohio Citizen Action and their Money in Politics Project, the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, Ohio Votes, the Woman’s City Club of Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnatus Association, Citizens for Civic Renewal, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Ohio, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC), the AMOS Project, Applied Information Resources, Inc. and Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion/Cincinnati.