Loading…
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Current Weather
Loading Current Weather....
Published: Sunday, 11/4/2012

GUEST COLUMN

Issue 2 is the wrong way to draw political maps

BY MARK WAGONER
Wagoner Wagoner
Enlarge

Ohioans have a long his­tory of elect­ing the peo­ple who make ma­jor po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions on our be­half. That en­cour­ages pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity: If we do not like the de­ci­sions, we can elect new peo­ple to of­fice.

Is­sue 2 on Tues­day’s bal­lot vi­o­lates that ba­sic tra­di­tion. Although we need to re­form the way we draw our con­gres­sio­nal and leg­is­la­tive dis­tricts, ap­proval of Is­sue 2 would be a step back­ward.

Re­dis­trict­ing oc­curs ev­ery 10 years af­ter the U.S. Cen­sus. In Ohio, the state Ap­por­tion­ment Board — the gov­er­nor, the state au­di­tor, the sec­re­tary of state, and two leg­is­la­tive lead­ers — draws leg­is­la­tive dis­tricts. The Gen­eral As­sem­bly draws U.S. House dis­tricts. All of these of­fi­cials are pop­u­larly elected.

My party drew the cur­rent maps. I think they are flawed. Po­lit­i­cal maps are the prod­uct of the re­dis­trict­ing pro­cess. If you fo­cus on a bet­ter pro­cess — add­ing ac­count­abil­ity and trans­par­ency, and forc­ing bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise — you will get more fairly drawn dis­tricts. Is­sue 2 in­cludes none of these in­gre­di­ents.

As a state law­maker, I have sup­ported sev­eral re­dis­trict­ing re­form pro­pos­als. One would have elim­i­nated sin­gle-party con­trol of the re­dis­trict­ing pro­cess and re­quired bi­par­ti­san com­pro­mise. Be­cause nei­ther Dem­o­crats nor Re­pub­li­cans would have had an ad­van­tage in draw­ing leg­is­la­tive lines, dis­tricts would be evenly bal­anced and de­ci­sion mak­ers would be ac­count­able to vot­ers.

By con­trast, Is­sue 2 would re­move elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the re­dis­trict­ing pro­cess. It would sub­sti­tute an un­elected com­mis­sion and cre­ate a per­ma­nent new gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy that, by de­sign, would be un­ac­count­able to Ohio­ans.

Worse, Is­sue 2 would un­wisely draw Ohio’s judges into a highly charged po­lit­i­cal pro­cess. The pros­pect of po­lit­i­ciz­ing the ju­di­ciary has caused the non­par­ti­san Ohio State Bar As­so­ci­a­tion and Ohio Ju­di­cial Con­fer­ence to op­pose Is­sue 2.

The ar­gu­ment by sup­port­ers that Is­sue 2 will re­move pol­i­tics from the re­dis­trict­ing pro­cess is naïve. It would sim­ply change the fo­cus of the pol­i­tics to the ap­pel­late court judges who would ap­point the mem­bers of the re­dis­trict­ing com­mis­sion. That would place enor­mous new pres­sure on these judges.

The mem­bers of the com­mis­sion, by vir­tue of their ap­point­ment, will be­come pol­i­ti­cians who can bro­ker their power in ways that may not be in the best in­ter­est of our state. Yet they will never face Ohio vot­ers.

Some peo­ple may think that, as an elected of­fi­cial, I have ul­te­rior mo­tives in op­pos­ing Is­sue 2. Yet I am not run­ning for re-elec­tion this year, and I may never seek pub­lic of­fice again.

One of the great re­grets of my time in the Gen­eral As­sem­bly is that we did not en­act mean­ing­ful re­dis­trict­ing re­form. But Is­sue 2 would not im­prove re­dis­trict­ing. It would make the pro­cess even worse — if that’s pos­si­ble — and would com­pro­mise the in­de­pen­dence of Ohio’s ju­di­ciary.

Although work on bi­par­ti­san re­dis­trict­ing re­form must con­tinue, Is­sue 2 de­serves a no vote.

Re­pub­li­can Mark Wag­oner of Ot­tawa Hills rep­resents Dis­trict 2 in the Ohio Senate.



Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. If a comment violates these standards or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report abuse. To post comments, you must be a Facebook member. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.

Related stories