Citizens create fairer districts than politicians
Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011
The League of Women Voters of Ohio Education Fund, the Midwest Democracy Network, and Ohio Citizen Action released the winning maps from the Ohio Redistricting Competition today.
The competition, which was launched on July 19, allows private citizens the opportunity to draw district lines for the Ohio House and Senate, using publicly available software and the same population and voting data that is being used by Ohio public officials. A parallel competition to draw Congressional maps is ongoing at Draw the Line Ohio, with maps due by Sept. 11.
The competition required participants to design state legislative districts which comply with all federal and state legal requirements. The maps were scored based on objective nonpartisan criteria which used mathematical formulas to measure the degree to which the districts respected county boundaries, were compact, balanced, and did not favor either political party.
“Private citizens designed districts that are more politically balanced than our current districts and that are still more compact and split fewer counties than our current districts,” stated Jim Slagle, Manager of the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting. “Each of the winning maps scored higher than the maps of our current districts.”
Slagle announced the top two high scoring plans and the amount of prize money each is being awarded:
1st Place ($1,000) – Mike Fortner, Illinois State Representative (Dist. 95 – R), former mayor of West Chicago, also an Associate Professor of Physics at Northern Illinois University, West Chicago, Illinois.
- House map had 25 highly competitive districts as compared to ten under the current map.
- Senate map had an equal number of districts which favored Democrats and Republicans, as compared to the current map where 20 of 33 districts favor Republicans.
- House and Senate maps created 37 county fragments as compared to 68 in the current maps.
2nd Place ($500) – Tim Clarke, attorney, Avon Lake
- Senate map had 14 competitive districts as compared with nine under the current map;
- House map had 22 highly competitive districts as compared to ten under the current map
- House and Senate maps were more compact and had fewer county splits than the current maps.
Fortner’s and Clarke’s maps will be submitted to the Ohio Apportionment Board for their consideration and will remain available for public review at www.drawthelineohio.org. The League of Women Voters, Ohio Citizens Action, and the other competition partners are urging the Apportionment Board to consider these nonpartisan maps rather than maps drawn in the political backrooms.
The Ohio Apportionment Board, which includes the Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, and two members of the Legislature, is required to establish new state legislative districts by October 1. The new districts will remain in effect for the next decade. To date, the Apportionment Board has not released information about any maps they are considering.
This year’s competition was patterned after a similar redistricting competition which the League of Women Voters, Ohio Citizen Action, and others sponsored with the Ohio Secretary of State in 2009. The 2009 competition also produced plans which were markedly better than those currently in use.
Competition Advisors: Dan Tokaji, Election Law @ Moritz at the Ohio State University; Stephen Brooks, Bliss Institute at the University of Akron; Sam Gresham, Common Cause/Ohio; Meg Flack, League of Women Voters of Ohio/Education Fund; Catherine Turcer, Ohio Citizen Action; Jocelyn Travis, NAACP; and Kellye Pinkleton, former director of the Voting Rights Institute.
Co-sponsors of the competition include Common Cause of Ohio, Ohio Votes, Kid’s Voting Central Ohio, Progress Ohio, Ohio NOW Education and Legal Fund, No Labels, Organize Ohio, NAACP, Hocking-Athens-Perry Community Action, Miami Valley Voter Protection Coalition, Clean Fuels Ohio, ACLU, Ohio Center for Progressive Leadership, The Cleveland Coalition, Ohio Environmental Council, Applied Information Resources, Ohio Voice, Ohio Association of Non-Profit Organizations, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, American Association of University Women, The CHANGE Agency, LULAC – Ohio, and America Votes – Ohio.