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Why Issue 2 Failed

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Redistricting played a major role in the general elections held earlier this month, seeing Republicans gain a 12-4 edge in Congressional seats.

An effort was made to change the way redistricting was conducted in the form of Issue 2, which was a ballot initiative this November.

Issue 2 failed to pass with 48 percent of Ohio voters opposing the initiative, ensuring that the drawing of legislative and congressional districts in Ohio will continue to be decided by the current majority party.

Issue 2 was primarily endorsed by Voters First, an organization dedicated to “[taking] the power over drawing our congressional and legislative districts out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the people,” according to the group’s website.

Voters First was then supported by the League of Women Voters and a large group of labor organizations and grassroot political groups; all of whom helped to draft issue two.

Issue 2, if passed, would have set up a 12 person board of independent citizens who would have submitted public plans for the 16 voting districts in Ohio.

Currently, a five person commission does the redistricting process after each census is conducted; controlled by the majority party.

Supporters of the ballot measure claim that Issue 2 would have set up a bipartisan commission to redistrict. They also claim that it would take the political infighting out of the redistricting process and would bring the process closer to the public.

Opponents, however, claim that to implement Issue 2 would have been a waste of time and effort.

“Anybody that was born yesterday knows that there will always be political considerations, said federal prosecutor Tom Gertz of Cleveland. “What it does is set up a new bureaucracy that the public cannot vote out or control.”

Getz also went on to mention that, as an amendment to the Ohio constitution, it would need a constitutional convention and a large organizing force to collect and count votes. The expense of all of this and the futility of the effort would just be a waste, he says.

However, this is not necessarily why the measure failed.

According to Ohio University Professor of Political Science Sarah Poggione, Issue 2 failed due to a lack of attention and information on the issue.

“It just didn’t get a lot of public discussion,” said Poggione. “The closeness of the presidential election sucked the air out of the discussion on this issue… A lot of the resources to educate voters were just not there due to the action of the presidential election.”

Poggione added that part of this lack of communication came from the proximity of the presidential elections.

“Since [Ohio] became the main focus for the presidential campaign, a lot of the folks who would have been active were focused on the presidential campaign,” she said.

The prospect of a similar measure being adopted though, is likely. As time goes on, more and more states are choosing independent redistricting boards over appointed officials, with California as a prime example of such a board in effect.

 

 

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