Ohio Heads To Court Over
Want to learn about why voting rights groups are taking the State of Ohio to court to fight for new voting districts? Here is an excellent recap by Nick Evans from WOSU Public Media/WOSU Radio.
OHIO ACLU Challenges the current United States District Maps in a Lawsuit filed May 23
by Mosie Welch
Didn’t we just eliminate gerrymandering in Ohio with Issue 1 when 75% of voters said yes to Issue 1? It is a beginning; however, the Ohio ACLU is clearly not satisfied that Issue 1 goes far enough to eliminate partisan gerrymandering and there is serious concern that 2021 is not soon enough to rectify the egregious map which is in place through the 2020 election cycle. Ohio has become yet another state challenging the validity of its current US congressional districts maps in United States District Court.
On May 23, 2018 the ACLU challenged the current US district plan or map in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
“The ACLU of Ohio and the ACLU Voting Rights Project are representing two organizational plaintiffs, Ohio’s A. Phillip Randolph Institute and the League of Women Voters of Ohio. The A. Philip Randolph Institute is a national organization for African-American trade unionists and community activists, established in 1965 to forge an alliance between the civil rights and labor movements. The bulk of the institute’s work today is focused on voter education, registration, and outreach efforts. The League of Women Voters was founded between the time that Congress passed the 19th Amendment and it was ratified, to help newly enfranchised women exercise their right to vote. Today, it is a non-profit, non-partisan grassroots membership organization dedicated to empowering citizens and ensuring an effective democracy.
The ACLU is also representing individual plaintiffs in all 16 of Ohio’s U.S. Congressional districts”.
The ACLE has prepared a FAQ about the lawsuit. Find out more here: https://www.acluohio.org/archives/blog-posts/faqs-congressional-redistricting-litigation
The full complaint is 48 pages long and quite educational, I highly recommend you browse through it. You can read the full complaint here: http://www.acluohio.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Complaint_APRIetalvKasichetal_2018-0523.pdf
The Ohio League of Women Voters has joined the lawsuit based on the mandate to end gerrymandering in Ohio by a margin of 75% statewide in the May 8 primary election and its longstanding work on redistricting reform in Ohio.
"Ohio's current congressional map is clearly gerrymandered and unconstitutional," said LWV Ohio Executive Director Jen Miller. "Voters demonstrated their understanding of this issue and hunger for change at the ballot box on May 8. We look forward to seeing the benefits of Issue 1 during the creation of future maps, which starts in 2021. But the fact remains that the current map needs to be addressed now. This lawsuit could lead to fair maps for all Ohio voters in the 2020 election, and create a strong framework for future map making under the Issue 1 process."
Find out more about the Leagues position in their press release at this link: https://www.lwv.org/newsroom/press-releases/lwv-ohio-joins-congressional-district-lawsuit
On May 23, 2018, Ohio ACLU published a blog post by Alora Thomas-Lundborg, Staff Attorney, ACLU Voting Rights Project which is an excellent read on gerrymandering in Ohio and what really happened when the maps were last drawn: https://www.aclu.org/blog/voting-rights/gerrymandering/why-ohios-congressional-map-unconstitutional
May 8, 2018 was a good day for redistricting reform in Ohio. We have good reason to celebrate! A whopping 74.9% of voters statewide said YES to ending gerrymandering for our United States Congressional Districts. In Medina County, Issue 1 passed with 73.2% of the votes. This is in part due to all the hard work of redistricting reform activists who took to the streets and the polls with clipboards and fliers in hand over the past year. You have reason to stop and savor the moment because your hard work has paid off.
Your citizen activism made a difference. So, to each of you who collected signatures for the Fair Districts ballot initiative in the heat and cold; wrote postcards t our representatives or voters; bought stamps; passed out fliers in your neighborhood; worked at the polls; posted yard signs; or talked to friends, neighbors, and co-workers – THANK YOU! But our job is not done.
In 2021, public and community input will be very important in ensuring that our representatives follow through on Ohio citizen’s will for drawing fair and compact districts using a transparent process and minimal splits. Redistricting reform for our state legislative districts (passed in 2015 with 71% of the vote statewide) and our United States congressional districts (Issue 1/2018) will go into effect in 2021 based on the numbers resulting from the 2020 census. This means the census in Ohio is crucial and we need to keep an eye on the process. We must remain vigilant. Between now and then all citizens MUST exercise their right to vote.
I urge each of you to vote and remain involved in getting out the vote in 2018 and beyond. Voting remains the single most important way to have your voice heard. Every vote counts as we have observed in 2018 in special elections across the country. Voting matters- as does good government activism.
What do I do with my yard sign sleeve? Please recycle it where you recycle your plastic bags!
Primary elections are upon us, and the field for Governor in the state of Ohio is rather crowded this year. Are you confused or unsure about which candidate best represents your values and views? Give the radio show “Sound of Ideas” WCPN 90.3 ideastream a listen this week 4/23 – 4/27 from 9a – 10 a to hear all six (two Republicans and six Democrats), candidates share their views and answer questions.
The format is a short stump speech, and then all candidates are taking questions from the listeners. Do you have a question that no one has answered to your satisfaction? Send an e-mail to SOI@WCPN.org or comment on The Sound of Ideas Facebook page.
You can also catch up on the on the segments that aired on Monday by pointing your browser here.
Issue 1 Yard Signs and flyers are available for pick up!
First come first served- if you have already reserved a yard sign, I have saved it for you. Fair Districts = Fair Elections and Common Cause Ohio received a large donation for yard signs and we are picking ours up on Saturday April 21 in Columbus.
THANK YOU to each of you who donated for your yard sign, all funds have been donated to the League of Women Voters Greater Cleveland because they printed our first batch of yard signs. Your donation is appreciated.
Tuesday April 24, 6:00-7:00PM at Brunswick Library, 3649 Center Rd, Brunswick, OH 44212 - I’ll be in the parking lot in my Kia Soul with a yard sign in the window- email me if you plan to stop by, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, April 26, 6:30 – 8:00PM Medina Democratic Club and Medina County Together Joint Meeting, Medina County Administration Building, 144 N Broadway St, Medina, OH 44256
Porch pick-up in Guilford Township/Seville – signs on our porch and flyers in the deck box. Easy to find because of the LWV VOTE sign and the Issue 1 Sign in our yard. If you have already reserved a sign- you can pick up any time, otherwise signs are available beginning Sunday morning. Email me for details, email@example.com
Issue 1, redistricting reform for our United States congressional districts, will be on the May Ballot and has been endorsed by both the Ohio Democratic and Republican parties, Fair Districts = Fair Elections, Common Cause Ohio, and the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
We encourage you to YES on Issue 1.
Updates on the redistricting initiatives are available at these sites:
From Fair Districts Blog Post 2/5/2018
The Ohio Senate and House passed a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that meets the standards our Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition have demanded from any congressional redistricting reform proposal. We have demanded that:
Here’s how it works:
Stage One: Passage of a map requires a three-fifths vote of both the House and Senate and must include at least 50 percent support of minority party members. If that doesn’t work…
Stage Two: Ohio’s existing seven-person bipartisan redistricting commission will be empowered to draw districts and must approve a map with at least two minority party votes. If that doesn’t work…
Stage Three: The legislature gets another chance to pass either (1) a 10-year map with one-third of the minority party’s support or (2) a four-year map without minority party support. If the process gets to the last stage not requiring minority party support, stricter rules protecting against unfair manipulation would apply.
Elected officials give up the power to draw one-sided congressional districts on their own. The public will have the opportunity to provide input and maps which must be considered. This happened because of citizen visits, rallies, calls, and emails, and because together we have gathered more than 200,000 signatures.
From 2/5/18 Fair Districts Blog Post with edits
Keep circulating petitions and collecting signatures until SJR 5 is on the ballot: (Issue1, May 2018) AND IT HAS PASSED.
Our Job: EDUCATE INFORM COLLECT SIGNATURES
Citizen Engagement is insurance that meaningful redistricting reform will be reality in OHIO! The leverage that citizen engagement provided in the negotiations for SJR 5 cannot be overstated.
Some articles about what is going on
Thanks you all, it’s a lot to digest- I think the Fair Coalition and LWV will give us guidance beyond “keep collecting” pretty soon and help with messaging.
Amid concerns over safety and lack of regulations from local authorities regarding the Nexus pipeline and the operation of the future compressor station in the Wadsworth area, Sustainable Medina County is seeking your help.
Sustainable Medina County is working with the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (http://www.environmentalhealthproject.org/health-issues/air) to collect and analyze numerical data including a baseline prior the beginning of operations in 2018. An ongoing assessment of air quality will allow local residents and farmers to alert authorities about potential harmful changes.
The fundraising goal is 20,000 dollars to cover the cost of the program. Sustainable Medina County thanks you for considering a contribution and welcome your donations made to Sustainable Medina County - Monitoring and mailed to: Sustainable Medina County PO Box 1033 Wadsworth OH 44282.
Cleveland Community Progressives and Medina County Together present:
Building a persuasive message for the 2018 Senate race
The training is scheduled for Wednesday, November 29th, 2017, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM at the Lakewood Public Library, 15425 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood.
Don't miss out on this valuable training session! Pre-registration required:
Click HERE to print out a flyer to keep or to distribute.
Wadsworth Tavern, 292 main Street, Wadsworth, Ohio
Sunday November 26 from 3:00pm-5:00pm
You don't want to cook anymore, it's time to get together with friends and do some good for our nation.
Here's your chance! Free Sundays - all beef hot dog and chile bar! OR Order off the menu and enjoy chatting while sending a message to our state representatives about why gerrymandering MUST END NOW
Thank you to Summer Costanza for letting us Party at Wadsworth Tavern!
with information from Fair Districts Ohio, League of Women Voters and, Action Together NE Ohio
WHY are we writing Postcards to End Gerrymandering and WHAT is the Ohio Congressional Redistricting Working Group?
In the early fall, the Ohio House and Senate observed that the Fair Districts Coalition had collected over half the signatures needed to get the Fair Districts Redistricting Initiative on the ballot in November of 2018. This spurred the house to form a bipartisan, joint committee which includes State Representatives Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) and Senators Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Vernon Sykes (D-Akron). “Huffman and Sykes co-sponsored the state redistricting reform measure approved by voters as state Issue 1 in 2015. The Ohio Congressional Redistricting Working Group (Working Group) is tasked with gathering public input on congressional redistricting reform and proposing reform recommendations. The legislature is then expected to turn those reform proposals into a piece of legislation to be debated and voted on by the legislature in time to put it before voters, perhaps as soon as the May 2018 primary election.”
(Information taken from www.fairdistrictsohio.org Fair Districts Ohio Blog, 10/28/17). In fact, the Working Group is may be formulating their plan by the end of December.
On October 26 and November 1, 2017 the Working Group listened to over four hours of testimony on redistricting reform of our United States Congressional Districts from experts and citizens in Room 313 of the Ohio State Capitol. People came from all over the state and from out of state to testify. I was present at both sessions and ALL of the testimony was against gerrymandering and most of the testimony asked the Working Group to adopt the Fair Districts Ballot Initiative.
Here is what the League of Women Voters is asking:
ACTIONS: Call and write the members of the working group and your own State Senator and Representative between now and the end of November. Postcard Party List at the end of this post
1. CALL: Call the members of the working group and your own State Legislators.
Members of the Working Group are:
Rep. Kirk Schuring (R) District 48 - Canton (Chair) 614-752-2438
Sen. Matt Huffman (R) District 12 - Lima (Chair) 614-466-7584
Rep. Jack Cera (D) District 96 - Bellaire 614-466-3735
Sen. Vernon Sykes (D) District 28 - Akron 614-466-7041
Find your Representative and Senator here:
2. WRITE: Send postcards to the members of the working group and your own State Legislators. Even better – attend or help organize a postcard party with your local action group or even just a few of your neighbors.
Name of Legislator
The Ohio Statehouse
1 Capitol Square
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Note: You don't have to use the postcards above. You can use any postcard - it's the message that counts - or DIY your own using a Fair Districts graphic.
- Gerrymandering undercuts democracy. Voters need to choose their representatives.
- No congressional district map shall be drawn to favor or disfavor a political party or candidates.
- Congressional districts should be drawn with bipartisan agreement.
- Communities should be kept together instead of carved up for political reasons.
- District boundaries should not split counties, cities, or townships, unless necessary.
- Congressional districts should be drawn in an open process, with public comment.
- Adopt the Fair Districts Proposal.
Columbus Dispatch editorial: http://www.dispatch.com/…/editorial-if-legislature-wont-act…
Ohio’s Gerrymandering Problem – 20 Page Report: http://www.lwvohio.org/…/Ohios%20Gerrymanding%20Problem_boo…
League of Women Voters: http://www.lwvgreatercleveland.org/
Fair Districts: http://www.fairdistrictsohio.org/
POST CARD PARTIES to END Gerrymandering
11/20 CLEVELAND HTS. - Pizza and Postcards – LWV of Greater CLE https://www.facebook.com/events/1870424956605630/
11/20 NEWBURG HTS. - Nan Whaley Gubernatorial Candidate Forum https://www.facebook.com/events/161328291129157/
11/20 MEDINA - Postcard Party 6:30pm - 8:00 at the Panera Bread, Medina - 4065 Pearl Road, Medina 44256.
11/21 CANTON - Postcard Party https://actionnetwork.org/…/postcards-to-end-gerrymandering…
11/21 PARMA - Postcard Party w/ Indivisible Parma 6:30pm Panera Bread Parmatown location
11/26 WADSWORTH - Postcards Party and Petition Signing https://actionnetwork.org/…/anti-gerrymandering-postcard-wr…
11/28 Medina -Post Card Party, Buckeye Library, 6:00pm 6625 Wolff Road, Medina, before the Medina County Together Meeting
11/29 PAINESVILLE - ProgressNEO Post-Election Social and Fundraiser Event,
11/30 LAKEWOOD – Indivisible CLE Meeting https://www.facebook.com/events/149856112294881/
TONIGHT in Medina,
Sunday November 26 in Wadsworth,
Anti-gerrymandering Postcard Writing Party
aimed at our Ohio Congressional Redistricting Work Group and Representatives-
Monday, November 20, 6:30pm - 8:00
Panera Bread, Medina, 4065 Pearl Road, Medina 44256.
Wadsworth Anti-Gerrymandering Post Card Writing Party
aimed at our Ohio Congressional Redistricting Work Group and Representatives.
Wadsworth, Sunday, November 26, 3:00-5:00pm,
Wadsworth Tavern, 292 main Street, Wadsworth, Ohio 44281
Thank you to Summer Costanza for hosting this event at Wadsworth Tavern
You send your own message to the Ohio Congressional Redistricting Workgroup or your State Representative - Post cards and postage provided!
Both locations will have petitions available for signature.
Fair Districts = Fair Elections ballot initiative update by a League of Women Voters.
latest on the initiative to end gerrymandering: Progress on the petition and hearings at the Ohio State House
Corinne Sacksteder, Maureen Welch
The latest numbers of confirmed signatures collected to end the gerrymandering and bring better representation to voters from Ohio are steadily getting petitioners closer to their goals: As of October 29, 2017, petitioners statewide have collected over 160,000 confirmed signatures (52% of the 305,000 needed) and Medina County now needs 119 signatures to complete its quota. Many more signatures are still needed to satisfy the quota and bring the number of counties to a minimum of 44.
Meanwhile the Ohio bipartisan congressional redistricting working group met again for a hearing on November 1, 2017. Citizens, petitioners and experts testified eloquently on how gerrymandering impacts their lives. Mosie Welch, who is leading the petition effort in Medina County, kindly agreed to share her testimony in this post.
Maureen Welch's Testimony before the Ohio Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Working Group, Ohio State House, November 1, 2017:
Rep. Kirk Schuring and members of the Ohio Congressional Redistricting Working Group, thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts on redistricting here in Ohio. I am a retired National Park Service law enforcement ranger, a wife, a mother, a friend, and a grandmother. I spent my career protecting our nations natural and cultural resources through education, resource management, and enforcement of the laws protecting our shared heritage. As a grandmother, I have a grandchild with special needs that requires regular monitoring, doctor appointments, physical therapy, and at 16 months old due to no fault of her own she will always have a pre-existing condition. So last year after an election cycle that was so divisive and left me feeling drained with threats to our natural resources, our clean air, our health, and our democratic norms and values on the line. I knew I had to be a part of something for good of democracy, so in January I went to several sessions on gerrymandering and Fair districts so that I would be ready to collect signatures when the time came.
I live in Seville, Ohio, southern Medina County. I met a few people who were interested in collecting signatures. But when the time came, we all had to drive to Summit County or Cleveland to get petition booklets, handouts, training, and updates. That is when I decided to be a pick-up and drop-off point for Medina County through the Greater Cleveland, LWV. I put my email, phone number, and address out on the internet on the Fair Districts=Fair Elections website. At first there were just four of us collecting, but as the time went on I got calls from all sorts of people who lived in more rural areas and wanted to collect. There are twelve of us now: since June 3 we have collected at libraries, post offices, festivals, parades, community events, churches, and from family and friends. Every month the number of signatures we collect has increased. As a group, In October we turned in 715 Medina County Signatures and over 100 signatures from other counties. These people like me are looking to make a positive difference for the future; one is a Vietnam Veteran who wears his veterans cap and a safety pin, he fills as many as three petitions a week standing at the post office or library; one 88-year-old woman who cannot stand for long periods collects for two hours a week sitting in a chair she has filled petitions. A working woman who spends every spare hour finding places to collect fills petition every week. A college student concerned about his future.
So, what have I learned out there on the public sidewalks of Medina County? Most people will politely stop and listen as I tell them what I am collecting for. Everyday there are a few who hear “end partisan gerrymandering” and practically grab the clipboard out of my hand to sign. Some ask me if I am paid or where I am from and seem relieved that I am collecting in my own County and that I am volunteer. But most people ask me to explain the Bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Amendment and I show them the map on my clipboard. Certain things resonate with people.
When people look at the 2012 - 2020 Ohio Congressional District Map and talk about their districts they comment how crazy their district is drawn. They want to keep counties and communities together. People like to hear that this Ballot Initiative, in most ways, mirrors what was voted for in 2015 for their state legislative districts and that it passed in all 88 counties and by over 71% of the vote. People remember voting for it and wonder why the US Congressional Districts weren’t included. People also like to hear that there is transparency with hearings and allowing input from communities and individuals
People often sign when they hear this is a Non-partisan Initiative, not designed to help one party or another; but to help to make election day more competitive in every district and make their vote count. At this point there are people will tell me they like the “way it is now.” I ask them if they will like it when the pendulum swings and democrats are drawing the lines in their favor? Sometimes this sparks a conversation and a signature – sometimes not.
Some people prefer to read and review. I carry a copy of the Initiative and handouts, so people can go online and look it up for themselves. When I’m at the library, people will go in and look up the ballot initiative and come back out and sign.
People even sign when it is not convenient for them. Parents with babies and kids in tow at the library; people with hands full of bags and boxes going in or out of the post office; people with food in their hands at a festival. People even come to find us when we post where we will be collecting on the Fair Districts website. At every single festival there has been at least one person tell me that they came specifically to sign the petition. These people say they heard about the redistricting reform on the news and looked it up and needed a place to sign. I have even had people come to my home to sign.
I have had democrats, republicans, and independents sign the petition. I learned early on, I cannot tell what party a person is just because they sign. Just one example: Two weekends ago on the Medina Square where I was collecting signatures, a man approached and was reading the poster board about gerrymandering I had with me. He said he wanted to sign the petition and then we had a lengthy conversation about gerrymandering. I said something about it being a non-partisan issue and that both democrats and republicans sign the petition and he answered me, “Yes they do, I am republican, and I want fair representation.”
What I have learned out on the sidewalks of Medina County; from Seville to Wadsworth, on Medina Square and in Brunswick is that people are signing the petition at an average of 20 signatures in two hours, I could collect more but it is necessary to discuss and watch people sign. That is why it is always best to collect with a friend. And if I learned one thing working for the National Park Service is that it is necessary to provide people the opportunity to understand an issue and think about an issue, for them to support an issue. And I think we are educating people about gerrymandering, one person at a time, all over Ohio. People do want to talk to other people from their own community about issues, including how to end gerrymandering, which splits communities. At the end of each day that I circulate petitions, I go home feeling heartened and not discouraged because even when approaching people in a cold call, out on the street, with a clipboard in hand and wanting to discuss a ballot initiative that requires a few minutes, most people are willing to listen and talk. And that is what people want: to talk with someone from their community about issues that concern them. They want a representative from their community who will talk with them about issues that concern them.
For more on Fair Districts (updated maps and overview of the hearings at the Ohio State House: www.fairdistrictsohio.org