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Published: Tuesday, 8/7/2012

Proposal on political districts to be on ballot


COLUMBUS -- A proposal to change the way Ohio redraws congressional and legislative districts is headed for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Secretary of State Jon Husted certified that the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Common Cause, and other groups pushing the proposed constitutional amendment have garnered 406,514 valid signatures of registered voters to qualify for the ballot.

The coalition, called Voters First, needed 385,253.

Last week, the coalition filed campaign finance reports indicating that it had raised and spent nearly $2 million in direct cash and other indirect help through June 30 on its effort. It has drawn heavily on the volunteers and backers of We Are Ohio, the group that last year successfully beat back a Republican-passed law restricting the bargaining power of public employee unions. Much of its money has come from labor unions.

Congressional and state House and Senate districts are traditionally redrawn once a decade to equalize population based on the latest U.S. Census. The party in charge typically uses the process to its own advantage, and Republicans controlled the pencil for all the maps last year. The congressional map is drawn by state lawmakers and signed into law by the governor. State legislative districts are redrawn by the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and two legislators of opposite parties.

The Voters First proposal would replace both methods with a single commission largely selected by a panel of judges. Elected and nonelected government officials, their families, and major political donors could not serve.

It would make competitiveness a key factor to be considered when adopting maps.

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