Business leaders from Ohio are standing in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would change the way redistricting occurs in the state by removing politicians from the process in favor of a citizen commission.
“One crucial aspect of ensuring a robust representative democracy are legislative districts that ensure fair representation of the voting population,” an open letter from 67 Ohio business leaders stated. “The sad reality in Ohio is that political leaders of both parties have abused the system.”
The letter was released via the Leadership Now Project, a national group of business leaders, and organized by a senior advisor to the project, Ohio Business Roundtable co-founder Richard Stoff.
“Extreme gerrymandering reflects poorly on this great state of ours,” Stoff said in a statement announcing the letter, in conjunction with Citizens Not Politicians, the group leading the effort to get redistricting reform on the ballot.
Citizens Not Policians is working to get a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2024 ballot that would eliminate the Ohio Redistricting Commission as it stands now, made up of seven elected officials including the Ohio governor, secretary of state, and auditor, as well as one Republican and one Democratic lawmaker from both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate.
Instead, if the amendment is approved by voters, a 15-member commission made up of public citizens would be empaneled to choose Ohio Statehouse and U.S. congressional voting districts.
Over the last two years, the ORC has received staunch criticism for its process, with the adoption of six Statehouse district maps and two congressional maps, all but one of which (the most recent Statehouse maps) were rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court as unconstitutional and unduly partisan.
The maps came about with behind-the-scenes map drawing that ignored racial demographics, rejected the work of taxpayer-funded independent map-drawers brought in at the behest of the state supreme court, and with redistricting commissioners refusing to go back to the drawing board as ordered by the court, based on legislative leaders’ interpretation of the law and their authority on redistricting.
The newest constitutional amendment on redistricting would “empower a truly independent citizen-led process to draw congressional and state legislative maps,” according to the letter.
“Building on successful best practices from other states, the Ohio proposal would ban gerrymandering, prohibit consideration of individual incumbents or candidates when drawing maps, and ensure an open and transparent redistricting process with extensive and meaningful public input,” the business leaders wrote.
As of Wednesday, individuals who signed the letter included former CEOs and leaders from the banking, energy, insurance, retail, small business and academic worlds. Recognizable names like Dr. Amy Acton, Jeni Britton, and Yvette McGee Brown appear alongside Doug Ulman of Pelotonia, former Procter & Gamble chair and CEO John Pepper, and Robert Schottenstein, chairman and CEO of M/I Homes.
Citizens Not Politicians and supporters of the proposed amendment are currently collecting signatures to bring the measure to the ballot box. The deadline to collect signatures for the 2024 General Election ballot is July 3.
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