Saturday, November 3, 2012

Ohio Issue 2: Great Idea, but will it work?

Ohio Issue 2 seeks to have redistricting done by an independent commission instead of by the legislature. We have to do this every ten years when the census comes out.  The full text is here: .

Issue 2 is a great idea, because legislators have an inherent conflict of interest.   The majority party will always draw new districts that maximize their own chances.   So instead, the idea is that there will first be a committee of 8 judges (4 from the majority party) who will select a qualified pool of candidates, from which 4 majority party persons, 4 minority party persons and 4 independents  will be selected.  They will do the best job that they can to meet sensible criteria for redistricting (keeping communities intact; making compact boundaries, etc). No office holders or lobbyists can be on the committee.  7 votes out of the 12 are needed to pass the new districting boundaries.

Of course you have to pay for this service, but it's only once every ten years, so maybe it's not so bad. 

However, David Worhatch points out in the Plain Dealer that the 8 judges doing the screening will most likely be comprised of 4 from the majority party and at least one independent that leans to the majority party.  So they will still likely stack the group of 12 with independents that favor the majority party.  That is a very significant loophole.  David's article is found here:

Another question I have, though, is what if the group can't agree?  What if two of the "independents" side with the Democrats and two side with the Republicans?  Then the committee might always vote 6-6.  What then?  I can't see from the amendment what to do about that situation.  The status quo may not be an option if the number of congressional districts has to change.  It would have been better if they had had an odd number of people on the commission.

I'm not going to vote for good intentions.  I probably will vote no unless somebody can better explain how this will work.  

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