A look at the effort to change how Congressional Districts are drawn in Ohio

Heather Macalla walks to her neighbor's house to collect a signature
Heather Macalla walks to her neighbor's house to collect a signature

BAY VILLAGE, OH (WOIO) - Some Ohioans want to change the way congressional districts are drawn in the state, and they're trying to put it to a vote on the November ballot.

Several groups have joined together to try to collect about 305,000 signatures from at least 44 of Ohio's 88 counties by July 5, to get a measure on the November ballot. The initiative would amend the state constitution to change how congressional districts are drawn.

Heather Macalla said she got interested in the congressional drawing issue back in 2012 when she saw counties, and even cities like Rocky River, divided into two congressional districts. She has since joined the League of Women Voters, and is one of the people in northeast Ohio going door-to-door to collect signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Right now, the Ohio Legislature determines congressional districts every 10 years after the census. Republicans re-drew those lines in 2012, and changed several northeast Ohio Congressional districts.

"These congressional districts should make sense. They should be compact groups, they should essentially kind of sort of look like a square, or sort of like a circle or maybe a rectangle. They shouldn't be these odd shapes like Jim Jordan's (district) is shaped like a duck," said Macalla.

Ohio voted 52 percent Republican and 43 percent Democrat in the last presidential election, but has 12 Republican congressmen, or 75 percent of the state's congressional seats, and four Democrats.

"They drew them this way to have them choose their voters instead of us choosing them," said Macalla.

This type of re-drawing isn't new, but Macalla said what is new is now there is more accurate technology that has the potential to pinpoint which house will vote for which candidate.

The proposed ballot initiative would amend Ohio's constitution, and put a bipartisan commission in charge of establishing the district lines. It would also include rules like a county can only be split once -- not two or three times.

Macalla said that she would be trying to get this initiative on the ballot no matter what political party redrew the congressional lines.

"The League of Women Voters, and other good civic organizations, have been working on redistricting reform since like the 70s, and what should concern you, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, is the core of our democracy is one vote, one person and each of our votes should count," said Macalla.

Macalla said if the group doesn't collect enough signatures by July 5, they plan to put it on the 2018 ballot.

For more information: fairdistrictsohio.org

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