2 Ohio statewide issues soundly defeated


COLUMBUS — Voters overwhelmingly defeated both state ballot issues Tuesday, quashing a measure to establish a citizen panel that would redraw congressional districts and another that would convene a constitutional convention.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett announced the news about Issue 2’s defeat — the redistricting proposal — at the GOP’s party, prompting cheers and applause.

“Elections can also remind us of the role the Ohio Republican Party plays in the role of rules in politics,” he said in a crowded ballroom at the Renaissance Downtown Columbus.

The state GOP vehemently opposed the redistricting measure, which would have altered the state constitution to give redistricting powers to an independent, state-funded commission of citizens.

Mr. Bennett said Ohio now will avoid a slew of legal issues that would have stemmed from Issue 2 — he pointed to California and Florida as examples — and he vowed the current system would be improved.

“As Issue 2 loses, Ohio wins,” he said.

More than 60 percent of voters voted against the redistricting proposal.

Sandy Theis, spokesman for Voters First Ohio, said she was disappointed at the defeat, and said Ohio needs to resolve how it will redefine its congressional districts.

Voters First supported the ballot issue with the help of the League of Women Voters.

Ms. Theis said she hopes state Republicans and Democrats can come together to work on a solution that’s amicable to everyone.

“For 47 years, the party in power has been vowing to fix the system,” she said. “We need a plan that everybody can rally around.”

Issue 1 was not as politicized.

The issue, passage of which would have led to a state constitutional convention, has appeared on the ballot once every two decades for the past century and has been voted down each time.

This time, the margin was more than 2-to-1, with most of the votes counted.

Tuesday’s defeat was unsurprising, but does not mean changes aren’t on the horizon for Ohio. The General Assembly created a constitutional modernization committee that will meet regardless of the defeat.

The assembly’s recommendations would have to be put before voters for approval.

The state constitution has been altered in recent years through voter initiatives, which legalized four Las Vegas-style casinos, banned same-sex marriage, raised the minimum wage, and expressed dissatisfaction with federal health-care reform.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.