The Ohio Apportionment Board has passed redistricting maps for the Ohio House and Senate. The only Democrat on that board voted against them and says he wants to change the process. And he’s not alone. As Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, even some majority members on the board who voted for the maps say they want to change the process.
It’s no secret that Democrats are not happy with the proposed maps. They say the maps are strongly skewed to give Republicans a better chance to win future elections. While calling the process terrible, House Minority leader Armond Budish, the only Democrat on the apportionment board, says he was not given an important amendment to the maps until a few minutes before the vote.
Budish says, "As part of what seems to be the common thread all year, the majority map was crafted under a shroud of secrecy with no public input and no input from the minority party."
Republicans say the maps were drawn to make sure they are constitutional and didn’t violate the voting rights act. And Governor John Kasich says he doesn’t think the maps were drawn in a way that Democrats couldn’t win.
Kasich says, "I’ve beat 2 incumbants, three incumbants in my lifetime You never can predict the outcome of an election if you get a good candidate so there’s no lock sitting. When people say this is locked down, it just doesn’t work that way."
Still some Republicans on the board who voted for the maps say the process needs to be changed for the future. Secretary of State Jon Husted
Husted says, "To all the partisans, on both sides, STOP. I know there’s frustration and anger that will be out there today from the minority and I know there will be some in the majority that will be doing end zone dances. It has to stop."
Husted plans to,once again, introduce his legislation that would give Ohioans the opportunity to vote to change Ohio’s constitution so that apportionment could be done with a bipartisan board. State Auditor Dave Yost says he wants that legislation to proceed and Senate President Tom Niehaus promises to let it go forward. But Budish thinks it’s disingenuous for Republicans to complain about the process.
Budish says, "I don’t understand that if Secretary Husted or others believed that the process that we followed today is flawed, there was no mandate that we followed that flawed process."
Budish says he proposed changes in the rule making process for the apportionment board that would have guaranteed more public scrutiny of maps and more input by Democrats but those ideas were shot down. He says he’s all for changing the process.
Budish says, "Secretary of State Husted is talking about doing something a decade away, I don’t understand that. If we are going to do something, we make it now and I hope we will."
Budish says if a reapportionment reform plan is put before voters next year, and it passes, he wants to come back to re-do the maps in a couple of years. But even people who like that idea admit it’s a long shot. Peg Rosenfield is with the Ohio League of Women Voters.
Rosenfield says, "Theoretically, they could come back and do it in two years, five years because when you change the Ohio constitution, you could change the timing but realistically, given the political makeup of the legislature, they aren’t going to want to change it again for 10 years…which is fine."
Democrats say they might try to take legal action or wage a referendum over the maps. They are exploring their options. But people on both sides of the aisle….even some of those who give their blessing to the new maps,…..think there’s too much partisanship these days. Again, Governor Kasich:
Kasich says, "I come in at a time where the partisanship is different than what I’ve experienced in my career but that’s ok. We are going to improve the culture here. That’s part of my job and part of my responsibility."