Innovation Ohio · April 27, 2021
COLUMBUS — Today, the Equal Districts Coalition — a unified group of several prominent Ohio advocacy organizations engaged in the 2021 redistricting fight — announced strong opposition to Senate President Matt Huffman’s proposal to give Statehouse leaders complete power to unilaterally determine Ohio’s redistricting schedule, creating the potential to cut back on public engagement opportunities.
“Ohioans voted twice, with powerful majorities, to make our redistricting process more open, accessible, and fair. The people demanded to play a key role in drawing district lines,” said Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio. “Ohio must respect the voters’ wishes and maintain a redistricting timeline that allows everyone’s voice to be heard.”
President Huffman’s proposed constitutional amendment would allow Ohio’s legislature to change redistricting deadlines anytime Census data is delayed. Because the legislature is currently dominated by a supermajority of Republican members, this would likely create scenarios where one party has unilateral control over redistricting deadlines. This stands in direct opposition to the intent of the ballot reform measures that Ohio’s voters overwhelmingly passed in 2015 and 2018.
“No matter where we’re from or what we look like, our votes should count. We cannot allow selfish politicians to take electoral power away from the people. That’s exactly the problem Ohioans were attempting to solve with these new redistricting laws,” said Prentiss Haney, Co-Executive Director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. “Gerrymandering has allowed certain politicians to rig district maps and election outcomes for far too long, diluting the power of Black and brown voters. We cannot condone any proposal that would take Ohio back in that direction.”
Ohio has known for well over two months that the state will receive its redistricting data by September 30, 2021. While this presents some challenges connected to meeting Ohio’s constitutionally-mandated redistricting deadlines, it does not change the fact that voters overwhelmingly demanded these new deadlines — and the related timeline — in two recent elections.
“When a bipartisan group of legislators and advocates came to the negotiation tables in 2015 and 2018, everyone agreed about the essential nature of ensuring a fair redistricting process. Missed deadlines, even those caused in part by the global pandemic, cannot and should not be used as an excuse to resurrect the political games of the past,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director of the Ohio Environmental Council. “We call on Ohio lawmakers to follow through on Ohio voters’ decisive mandate to end partisan gerrymandering and to ensure a thorough and transparent redistricting process.”
The census delay is absolutely not an excuse to cut corners in terms of how transparent or how inclusive the redistricting process is. “To best mitigate the impacts of the delay, we need to preserve as much of the existent redistricting process as possible – with an emphasis on maintaining ample opportunities for public engagement. As it stands, however, Senate President Huffman’s proposal is a complete non-starter,” said Katy Shanahan, Ohio State Director of All On The Line.
The Equal Districts Coalition includes the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Ohio Environmental Council, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio Student Association, ProgressOhio, All On the Line-Ohio, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Ohio Council of Churches, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, LEAD Ohio, the Ohio Women’s Alliance, and more.
Tagged in these Policy Areas: Democracy