So much for a bipartisan plan for effective congressional representation. The redistricting map approved by Ohio lawmakers this week saves millions of taxpayer dollars and makes Ohio's 2012 presidential primary relevant, but it fails as an exercise in democracy.
The so-called compromise splits Toledo between two congressional districts instead of three, improves competition a little in a Dayton-area district, and promises a task force to save future map makers from their partisan tendencies. It also sets a single primary election for March 6, 2012, abandoning the plan that would have moved the congressional and presidential primaries to June at a cost of $15 million. The new deadline for presidential and congressional candidates to file for the primary is Dec. 30.
State Rep. Michael Ashford (D., Toledo) got to the crux of the matter when he noted that the map "improves Marcy Kaptur's situation." The map adds about 100,000 Toledo-area voters to her district, which likely would make it easier for the Democrat to hold on to her U.S. House seat.
But the point of the exercise wasn't supposed to be to protect Miss Kaptur. The point was to make redistricting less blatantly partisan and to make more districts competitive. This map does almost nothing to address those underlying problems. That's why Democrats rejected essentially the same map last month.
The new District 9 still stretches from Toledo to Cleveland and sets up a potential contest between Miss Kaptur and longtime incumbent House Democrat Dennis Kucinich. And the new map still effectively hands 12 of 16 districts to Republicans in a battleground state that Gov. John Kasich won last year despite receiving just 49 percent of the vote.
The bill also creates a task force to come up with a better way to redraw congressional lines in the future. Lawmakers have rejected every proposal to accomplish that in the past. We have little faith they won't do so again.
State Rep. Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo) said: "The redistricting process has been disappointing." For Ohio voters, it was a lot worse than that.