by Clyde Weiss | July 05, 2012
Hoping to prevent incumbent state and federal lawmakers from drawing districts that protect themselves, a coalition of labor unions and other progressive groups has turned in more than enough signatures to place a redistricting measure on the November ballot.
Voters First, which includes We Are Ohio, AFSCME, the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, submitted more than 450,500 signatures of registered voters to the Secretary of State this week. They need at least 385,253 valid signatures from half of Ohio’s 88 counties. The group said they met the threshold in more than 50 counties.
Currently, the majority party – currently Republicans in both houses – is able to gerrymander district lines to benefit incumbent lawmakers and hold onto power for years. The constitutional amendment that Voters First seeks to pass in November would try to remove party politics from redistricting by creating an Ohio Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission. It would consist of four Democrats, four Republicans and four independents chosen through a process involving state judges. No elected officials, lobbyists or major political donors could participate.
John A. Lyall, president of AFSCME Council 8 and an AFSCME International vice president, applauded the effort to put fairness back into the redistricting process. “Ohioans continue to take back control of our state from politicians who are trying to take it away from us,” he said. “From S. B. 5 to today, working people are standing up to the big-money interests. This amendment will once and for all decide that fairness for the people of Ohio is the priority, not the agendas of overreaching political parties looking out for their own interests.”
Although Voters First has submitted the required number of signatures to get the measure on the ballot, the group continues to collect signatures to ensure that the group gets as many as possible during the Ohio Secretary of State’s verification period.
For more information, visit Voters First here.