Thursday, November 10, 2005
This past Tuesday, four election reforms on the Ohio ballot lost. One of those initiatives, Issue 4, would have transferred the job of drawing Ohio's legislative and congressional districts from politicians to an independent board.
In the last four decades, whichever party has controlled the redistricting process in Ohio has gained an average of 8 seats in the House and 2 in the Senate. (Check out our analysis mentioned below for more info.) The politicians who drew Ohio's current districts followed this undemocratic tradition, stifling political competition and leading to the severe under-representation of Ohio's moderates.
While Issue 4 didn't pass, there is no doubt that Ohio voters perceive a problem and believe that the system needs to be cleaned up. Just this morning, we received a call from an Ohio man asking about voter registration by congressional district. He wants to use empirical evidence to show that politicians have rigged the districts.
Our sister group, Research for The Rest of Us, tackled this very problem in a slightly different way in the analysis Safe Seats, Dangerous Democracy. We took a look at the partisan make-up of the state's congressional and legislative districts using the 2004 presidential vote instead of voter registration stats. The results were much what Floyd (the Ohio man) suspects he will find: that the state's districts are rigged to benefit the politicians and political parties at the expense of democratic representation for the people of Ohio.
Even some of the very Ohio politicians who fought against the reforms on the ballot have said that they realize that there's a problem with letting politicians draw their own districts. It'll be up to people in Ohio like Floyd to keep the pols' feet to the fire to make sure folks in the Buckeye State are getting their vote's worth.