COLUMBUS — As far as statewide ballot issues go, this year is a relatively quiet one.
Ohio voters will be asked to revamp how congressional and state legislative districts are redrawn, the latest proposed answer to the inherently political process that typically takes place every 10 years after the latest U.S. Census.
As they have every two decades for the last century, voters also will be asked whether they want to hold a full-fledged convention to examine and propose changes to the Ohio Constitution.
Appearing on the ballot as Issue 2, a proposed constitutional amendment would take the redistricting pencil out of the hands of elected officials and give it to a new 12-member citizen panel that would be directly and indirectly appointed by a bipartisan group of appellate judges.
The proposal is pushed by the likes of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, Common Cause, the Ohio Democratic Party, and a number of labor unions.
“The politicians think we don’t matter,’’ states a TV ad financed by the proponent coalition Voters First Ohio. “They’ve stolen our voice, our vote, and rigged the system for themselves. They’ll do anything to keep power.’’
The opposition, calling itself Protect Your Vote Ohio, includes the Ohio Republican Party, utilities, and a number of business groups.
“Issue 2 would change our constitution, creating a system of unelected commissioners who would influence who can represent us in the capital,’’ one of its TV ads states. “They can set their own pay, and taxpayers would be forced to foot the bill.’’
The Ohio State Bar Association and Ohio Judicial Conference object to the involvement of judges in the proposed process.
Currently, congressional district maps are adopted by lawmakers and signed by the governor like any other bill. State House and Senate districts are redrawn by an apportionment board consisting of the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and two lawmakers of opposite parties.
Whoever controls the General Assembly and a majority of the apportionment board offices controls the process. Most recently that has been Republicans.
Issue 1 poses the question of whether voters want to hold a constitutional convention in which delegates would be elected to proposed changes to the supreme law of the state. Voters have routinely said “no’’ to this question every 20 years since the last state convention in 1912.
Instead of using conventions, voters have gone directly to the ballot to approve a wide range of individual constitutional amendments, including legalization of casino gambling, a ban on same-sex marriage, and increases in the minimum wage.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.
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