Last week we brought you a post regarding a concerted GOP effort to change election laws in “blue” states so that Electoral College votes would be given to presidential candidates based on congressional district rather than the winner takes all system currently in place in 48 of our 50 states. The only reason this is possible is because Republicans ruled the roost in several state governments during the last reapportionment of congressional districts in 2011 – leading to gerrymandered districts in many large states, including Ohio.
Ohio’s Democratic congressional candidates, as a whole, received more votes than Republican candidates in 2012. President Barack Obama, a Democrat, carried the state. Yet, Republicans hold more seats in Ohio’s congressional delegation by a 3-1 margin. Our current federal (and state) legislative maps were conceived in a downtown Columbus hotel room, the love children of U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R) and Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R).
Of course, that was done in 2011. Their legislative plans worked out – Ohio Republicans are disproportionately represented (and rule) the Ohio General Assembly and our congressional delegation. Gerrymandering doesn’t work for statewide races, though. When all Ohioans vote, this fairly evenly divided state can swing either way. In the past two presidential elections, Ohio has favored a Democrat. In the past two gubernatorial elections, Ohio has elected a Democrat and then a Republican. Because Ohioans who identify with one or the other party are evenly divided along partisan lines, and most are self-described Independents in the middle, you might think that the GOP can’t fool with statewide general elections.
You would be wrong. The current GOP tyranny in Columbus is inviolable for the time being short of real and immediate redistricting reform. With both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office under their control, they can do anything. The governor and Ohio’s GOP legislative leaders have been quiet on the possibility of changing the way Ohio’s Electoral College votes are cast, but Republican Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted seems comfortable with the idea:
Husted does include “redistricting reform” in his statement, but what does that mean? You will hear other Republicans say things like, “Statewide candidates will have to compete in every congressional district – not just the urban centers.” That’s a meaningless statement when our districts are not competitive and there is no plan to correct that fact.
Be on the lookout Ohio. You’ve been able to count on one person, one vote when voting for president. If the GOP has its way, the rules change and a candidate with a majority of statewide votes could go down in flames courtesy of a gerrymandered Electoral College.