People get it, Ohioans do in droves – gerrymandering is a big part of the problem and its got to go. What Republicans have done to weaponize elections has poisoned the well for everyone and it’s no longer okey dokey to allow politicians to pick the voters, we need reforms that take it out of the hands of the most interested parties. Think of that, it’s been totally standard operating procedure throughout our history for legislators to decide who votes for (or against) them by designating who can vote and then designing the districts and who is in them.
With computers the science of redistricting became as pinpoint as laser surgery. As with most norms we took for granted, the abuse of such a system was just something we thought no honorable politician would do. Then came the modern Republican Party that, to paraphrase their hero Richard Nixon, said “well, if we do it it’s not a crime, or even wrong.”
The people who believe down to the bottom of their souls that the ends justify the means and that they’re in a holy war against modernity, science, liberalism etc. sought to gain electoral advantage in order to push that advantage to the point of invulnerability. Then they could do whatever they want, period. Starting after the 2010 Republican census, legislators gerrymandered states so that even when 52% of Wisconsinites, Pennsylvanians or Michiganders voted for Democrats, 55% (or more) of the seats went to Republicans. Ohio is a 50-50 state (okay maybe 52-48) but Republicans have 75% of Congressional seats and a 2-1 advantage in the state legislature. All of that alarmed Democrats in 2016. In 2016! Six goddamn years too late. But you know, they’re doing their best.
Advocates say their success in Ohio on Tuesday could be the start of a record-breaking year for redistricting reform, which could be on the ballot in five more states. And that raises the question: Are voters who are sick of Washington now turning their frustration to gerrymandering?
In Ohio, it certainly seems that way. By a 75-to-25 percent vote, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment designed to force state lawmakers to come up with a compromise congressional map in 2020 that doesn’t just benefit the party in control, which is now the GOP.
This electoral action is in addition to the legal actions having been taken in several states leading to state court and Supreme Court cases that have so far been sensible in showing toxic gerrymandering the door. The Supreme Court will likely render a decision in June that could upend this sort of clearly politically motivated redistricting.
I don’t care who you are, if you are fair minded and want our representatives to do have honest debates on the battlefield of ideas, this is a key part of electoral reform that would make our elections more competitive and our legislatures more representative.
Silver points out that an April Pew Research Center survey found that 61 percent of Americans say “significant changes” are needed in the “design and structure” of American government.