Unequal by design

11/13/2012

Democrat Barack Obama won Ohio by more than 100,000 votes over Re­pub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney. Demo­cratic U.S. Sen. Sher­rod Brown de­feated Re­pub­li­can Josh Mandel by more than 250,000 votes. Yet GOP can­di­dates won 12 of Ohio’s 16 U.S. House races. Re­pub­li­cans also have a large ma­jor­ity in the state House and a more than 2-to-1 ad­van­tage in the state Senate.

In a state as evenly di­vided po­lit­i­cally as Ohio, that should not hap­pen. But it did, be­cause Re­pub­li­cans in charge of re­draw­ing the con­gres­sio­nal and leg­is­la­tive dis­tricts packed as many Dem­o­crats as they could into as few dis­tricts as pos­si­ble to cre­ate the max­i­mum num­ber of safe Re­pub­li­can seats and en­sure a GOP ma­jor­ity in Con­gress and the Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

In the same elec­tion, Ohio vot­ers soundly de­feated a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that would have re­moved the once-a-de­cade re­draw­ing of con­gres­sio­nal and leg­is­la­tive bound­aries from par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal hands and put it in the hands of a non­par­ti­san panel.

Re­pub­li­cans played a part in that de­feat by spread­ing false claims about how mem­bers of the panel would be cho­sen and how big their bud­get would be.

Ohio Sec­re­tary of State Jon Husted’s Bal­lot Board also crafted bal­lot lan­guage for Is­sue 2 that was so con­fus­ing it could not pass mus­ter with the GOP-led Ohio Supreme Court.

Re­pub­li­cans say they agree that the sys­tem doesn’t work, that it in­creases par­ti­san­ship, makes com­pro­mise less likely, and pro­duces re­sults that don’t re­flect the po­lit­i­cal makeup of the state.

So it’s up to Re­pub­li­cans to come up with a plan. Mr. Husted claims he’s an ad­vo­cate of elec­tion re­form. If he has a bet­ter idea, let him share it. What does Gov. Jon Ka­sich think? The Ap­por­tion­ment Board?

Talk about elec­tion re­form of­ten is no more than par­ti­san­ship by an­other name. It’s time to stop al­low­ing the foxes to de­sign the hen­house.