Ohio voters approved a gerrymandering reform proposal Tuesday that would change how the state draws congressional district lines following the next US Census.
The Issue 1 ballot measure passed 75% to 25%, based on unofficial results from the Ohio secretary of state’s office. It will be implemented in 2021.
Ohio’s population size in 2020 US Census results will determine the number of seats the state will have in the US House of Representatives. Once the number of seats is determined, the lines will be determined by the state legislature. Then, in order to adopt the map for 10 years, 60% of Ohio state legislators and 50% of members of the two leading parties (likely Republicans and Democrats) must approve it. If it’s not approved, a commission that includes the governor, auditor, Ohio’s secretary of state and four lawmakers will move to approve or decline the redistricting proposal.
If that commission fails to approve the new map, it would be sent back to the statehouse with a lower threshold for approval.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, this hybrid of state officials and a commission to determine redistricting would be a national first.
Republicans controlled the 2011 redistricting process and drew a map that favored their party across the state. Democrats currently control only four of the state’s 16 congressional districts.
There’s also a redistricting battle in the neighboring swing state of Pennsylvania, where lines were quickly redrawn after the state’s Supreme Court ruled earlier this year the map favored the GOP. The maps were released in time for the state’s primary elections this month.
Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, now the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, praised the passage of the reform in Ohio.
“The redistricting reform passed today in Ohio makes it much harder for politicians to rig elections through gerrymandering and gives me hope that we can restore fairness to our elections in states around the country,” Holder said in a statement. “Ohio has proven that when citizens work together to demand their elected officials support a fair redistricting process, positive change is possible.”