Why Don’t Politicians Listen To Us?
Our politicians are going into backrooms to draw districts that benefit themselves—to ensure their own re-elections without being accountable to the voters. In order to gain political advantage, they have created bizarre districts that zigzag across Ohio and split apart numerous cities and counties. And then within three months of adopting new congressional districts, the politicians exchanged new maps in secret, changed the districts again, and even changed the date of the election! Leaving politicians in charge of drawing their own districts is like letting the fox guard the henhouse. For decades, politicians have protected their jobs and their friends through backroom deals on redistricting. This amendment puts a non-partisan citizen commission of Ohioans in charge.
Ohio is an evenly divided state politically, which should prevent either political party from dominating unfairly. But redistricting by politicians means that we have few competitive districts and whichever party is in control draws districts that favor their party. We need an independent citizen commission, not redistricting controlled by any one party.
Incumbent politicians have been drawing these lines to serve their own self-interests at the expense of the people’s collective interest. We the people have to take back this power by seizing the pen away and drawing the districts ourselves. The (redistricting) plan was secretly drawn, the public hearings were a sham and it’s very clear that the sole goal was to maximize partisan advantage. It was the exact opposite of a fair process— you’d be hard-pressed to find a place where the process or end product was uglier than ohio. ~Daniel Tokaji , Professor Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a Leader of Voters First
What Can We Do?
Voters first is led by a coalition of nonpartisan groups and people from across Ohio. It was created to take the power over drawing our congressional and legislative districts out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the people. The Voters First Initiative will put more power in the hands of the people, not the politicians. It will give regular Ohioans a stronger voice in our democracy and provide them more control over their representation in Washington and Columbus.
What Would The New Process Look Like?
Voters first’s proposal will create an Independent Citizens Commission. Politicians, lobbyists and political insiders are prohibited from serving on the Commission. The Commission’s work will be open and it will be accountable to the public. The Commission will empower voters to choose their politicians instead of politicians picking their voters.
- Citizens, not politicians
Instead of the current procedures (in which politicians draw district boundaries that unfairly favor their own party and/or protect incumbents), a 12-member Citizens Commission will create the districts. Any member of the public can submit a plan for consideration.
- Openness and transparency
All meetings, records, communications and draft plans of the Commission must be open to the public. No more backroom deals.
- Balance and impartiality
The Citizens Commission will include equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents, and the approval of at least seven of the twelve members of the Commission will be required for the adoption of any plan. This will ensure that the final plan fairly represents all Ohioans, not just those currently in power.
- Community representation
Districts will be created that are geographically compact, and which minimize the division of counties, townships, municipalities and wards between different districts.
- Accountability & competitive districts
Politically balanced districts will be created, rather than “safe districts” which make it difficult or impossible for voters to hold elected officials accountable.
To the greatest extent possible, the share of districts leaning toward a party will reflect the political preferences of the voters of Ohio.
Join The Voters First Effort
To move forward, we need to identify sufficient resources to gather 386,000 signatures by july 4, 2012, and mobilize a statewide educational campaign for the November 2012 election.
for additional information, and to get involved, visit the Voters first website, www.Votersfirst.com