Redistricting: What’s Next After the Government Shutdown?

Kegler Brown Government Affairs Update

Now that the Federal Government shutdown is temporarily averted, each state needs to address the redistricting process that, in my opinion, allows a growing majority of extreme legislators to hold the rest of the country hostage without any political repercussions from their home districts. In Ohio, the Congressional and Statewide redistricting process is a platform for purely political mischief that leaves more than half the population – moderate Democrats, Republicans and Independents – politically underrepresented, while amplifying the influence of a minority of obstructionists and extremists whose tactics almost destroyed America’s economy. Ohio can do better.

The Ohio Senate and the Constitutional Modernization Commission are examining proposals to change the way we redraw legislative districts. This is a good start if the powers-that-be can actually agree on a process that requires competitive districts where possible and requires openness. Our modern system is driven by political indices and we have another eight years before the next census, reedit or political lines. Ohio can do better. So far, a Senate bill with bipartisan co-sponsors would require bipartisan approval of an ultimate redistricting plan. A comparable House proposal would similarly require bipartisan approval, and adds a public competition component to the process. Both would vest jurisdiction for review in the Supreme Court. Hopefully, the conversation will continue and yield results.

The reality of our current crop of legislators is that most of them are actually pretty good and would likely win in competitive districts in a general election. Most are decent, sensible people, that given the opportunity to “not be crazy” (which they become in a primary election), can actually work together for us. But until the bulk of Ohio’s state and federal legislative elections are won in general, rather than primary, elections, we’re destined to continue the era of the shutdown threat. Don’t we all yearn for a time when we didn’t know what a debt ceiling was?