305,591 in Ohio needed for gerrymandering elimination ballot item

305,591 in Ohio needed for gerrymandering elimination ballot item
(Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A group of Ohio volunteers are collecting signatures to get an issue on the November 2018 ballot that will change the way Ohio's congressional districts are drawn.

Members of The Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio need to collect at least 305,591 signatures to eliminate gerrymandering, or the creating of districts to advantage one political party over the other.

The group will need a minimum number of signatures from Ohio's 44 of 88 counties to qualify to put this petition on the November 2018 ballot.

Heather Macalla, a Cleveland resident and member of the Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio coalition, said she and other local groups such as the League of Women Voters have been advocating for urgent change since 2002.

In 2010 with the modernization of technology, 20 percent of the votes that were casted, were "wasted" because of the district map redrawing's which benefited the politicians, Macalla said.

"By 2020, software technology will be able to map out nearly 35 percent of the votes that are casted," Macalla said. "We can't have politicians not doing democracy ... it's our power as citizens to cast these votes."

Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine on Monday certified the group's petition summary as "fair and truthful." DeWine originally rejected the submission, citing that the language did not match the proposed Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Act.

The Ohio Ballot Board will decide within the next 10 days whether the proposal contains one or more multiple amendments.

In 2015, Ohio voters approved Issue 1, which revised the process for drawing state legislative districts. The Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Reform Amendment mimics much of the state reform measure.

The amendment proposes the same seven-member commission of state lawmakers and elected officials that will draw Statehouse district maps do the same for congressional districts. A map would need the votes of two minority party members for approval.

Map makers wouldn't be able to split a county more than once, and the overall proportion of Republican- and Democrat- leaning districts would have to reflect the party preferences of voters over the previous 10 years.

Even if the group does not receive enough signatures for the petition, they will continue to go for the next ballot for 2019.

"We pick them to represent us," Macalla said. "These maps should favor the voters not the politicians."

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