Ohio voters will get final say on who should draw political maps

Stateline Midwest ~ September 2012

Ohio voters will decide in November whether the task of redistricting should be taken away from state elected officials and put in the hands of a 12-member commission. 

The proposed constitutional amendment would have an immediate impact; the ballot proposal calls for new maps to be redrawn prior to the 2014 election. 

Under current Ohio law, the General Assembly is put in charge of the congressional map while a five-member board of state elected officials has purview over state legislative districts. In contrast, the newly formed 12-member commission could not include current and former officeholders, their family members, or lobbyists and big political donors.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, six U.S. states already have put politician-free commissions in charge of redistricting. In the Midwest, legislatures get at least the first crack at drawing and/or approving new political maps. Iowa, though, is often singled out for its unique process: Nonpartisan legislative staff develops a map, which then must be approved or rejected, without modification, by the legislature. If the legislature fails to approve staff’s first two plans, it may amend the third map as it would any other bill.