September 7, 2005

Coins, Vets, and Fraud, Oh My

Change is in the air in Ohio. After the numerous reports of election fraud in the 2004 presidential election, rabblerousing by Democrat Paul Hackett in an August special election, and the Coingate scandal, Ohioans have become more receptive to political reform. Yesterday, the group Reform Ohio Now received word that 4 of their sponsored amendments will be on the November ballot this year. All 4 measures aim to make Ohio a more fair and politically competitive state, which unsurprisingly has Republicans up in arms. The most important amendment seeks to create an independent commission to draw up voting districts in the state. The 5 member board would be chosen (courtesy of Reform Ohio Now) as follows:

1) The first member would be appointed by the state appeals court judge with the longest continuous service. The second member would be appointed by the next senior appeals court judge from a different political party.
2) The first two commission members then would appoint the other three, including one member not affiliated with a political party.
3) Any person or group could submit a congressional and legislative redistricting plan, and the commission would choose the plans judged to create the most competitive districts without dividing up counties and cities.
4) The first districts under the plan would be in effect in the 2008 elections. After that, new plans would be chosen in the year after each census, starting in 2011.

The creation of independent oversight for voting districts just seems like common sense to me. Politicians have too much self-interest in election outcomes to objectively draw up districts. This isn't solely a Republican phenomenon; Democrats do it too.

Despite earning the requisite number of signatures to appear on the ballot, Republicans have launched one last ditch effort to sabotage RON and protect their stronghold. Former Senator Richard H. Finan has filed suit against the group claiming that the use of out-of-state signature gatherers based on the law that only Ohio residents have the right to petition their government. Finan predicted that Ohio could lose up to 6 of their 12 Republican Representatives should the measure pass. If that indeed happens, wouldn't that just prove the flagrant gerrymandering that is going on in our country (cough, Texas, cough), installing representatives increasingly unresponsive to their electorate because of a lack of opposition?

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