on October 26, 2012 by admin in Cleveland, Comments (0)

Effect of an Issue 2 ballot win in Ohio debated at City Club

James Ewinger, The Plain Dealer By James Ewinger, The Plain Dealer The Plain Dealer
on October 26, 2012 at 6:47 PM, updated October 26, 2012 at 7:12 PM Brought to you by

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There is no significant disagreement about the weaknesses in the way Ohio draws its congressional and legislative districts boundaries. But there was vigorous debate at the City Club of Cleveland on Friday about whether a change proposed on the Nov. 6 ballot will fix the problem, or make it worse.

The current redistricting procedure allows the party in legislative power to control the mandated adjustment of boundaries every 10 years after a new Census. The Republican-drawn map last year created some serpentine districts that favored the GOP and so outraged Democrats and others that a reform movement was born. The result is Issue 2 on the ballot, a plan that backers say will limit the politics in the equation.

Terry Casey, a Republican consultant and redistricting expert, said in his preamble Friday that "this issue is not just Republican or Democrat." He said the proposed changes could have enduring consequences for both parties that would be hard and expensive to undo since they are part of a constitutional amendment.

On the other side, Dan Tokaji, a professor of constitutional law at Ohio State University, said, "When politicians draw the lines, the voters lose." He said if Issue 2 passes "we won't have three-quarters of the districts favoring one party as they do now."

Issue 2 would create a bipartisan commission composed of four Democrats, four Republicans and four independents to redraw the boundaries.

Casey said Ohio has a large, diverse population and it is difficult to draw boundaries that satisfy all. He said the advent of computers also makes it more possible to manipulate the process.

Tokaji said both parties are equally capable of shaping the boundaries to their benefit.

He said when politicians of either party have safe seats, they are not listening to the voters, "they are listening to their political cronies, to paid lobbyists, to the big-money donors, to the very special interests that control our process."

If voters approve the change, a panel of Ohio judges would make the initial selection of potential candidates for the commission.

Casey said judges making the selections would not have the insulation from undue influence that they have while handling legal issues.

Moderator Rick Jackson of WCPN FM/90.3 said the judges will choose 42 candidates, whittle that down, whittle it again until they have nine commission members, and those nine choose the remaining three for the commission.

"Why so complicated?" he asked Tokaji.

"It's not that complicated," the law professor said. "You just explained it in 10 seconds."

Ohio labor unions and the League of Women Voters are the ballot issue's most prominent supporters. The GOP and Ohio Bar Association oppose it. The Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urged voters to reject it.

More than $13 million in campaign contributions have been poured into the fray, according to recent finance reports. Opponents of the measure have raised $7 million since July, including $3 million from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Issue 2 supporters raised more than $4 million since July, mostly from labor organizations.

Article source: http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2012/10/effect_of_an_issue_2_ballot_wi.html

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