Opinion | State Issue 2 will keep elections transparent
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 21:09
In response to the editorial in The Miami Student concerning the establishment of an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, the search for an ideal solution to gerrymandering will always be elusive.
Opponents of State Issue 2, which will create such a commission by amendment to the Ohio Constitution, state that the Commission invites manipulation, because political novices will go mano a mano against veteran party professionals. It is precisely such veterans who will be excluded from a place on the commission.
Indeed, local level politicians will be permitted to serve, so long as they have not been large donors.
Drafters of the Commission’s rules purposely left the door open for locally engaged citizens to apply for membership on the commission.
Is it a problem that the process of naming members of the commission involves appeals-court judges? A dozen Ohio law professors and the past President of the Bar Association signed a letter emphasizing that judges will serve only as screeners of applicants. The signers of the letter noted that in Ohio and other states judges are already involved in appointments to boards and commissions.
Judges occupy the most impartial, non-political branch of government, so they are just the people to play the role of screeners.
Criteria that guide the drawing of district lines will be binding upon the members of the commission, whose reason for wishing to serve is fairness in the creation of districts that are competitive and reflect Ohio’s political balance between the two major parties. Political balance will enable voters to hold elected officials accountable.
Unlike the secretive manner in which the legislators drew the maps in 2011, transparency will guide the work of the Commission. The public will have full access to the Commission’s work, and members of the public may submit maps.
Attempts by the Ohio General Assembly to reform itself have failed. An independent commission is exactly what is needed to allow voters to choose their representatives instead of the representatives picking their voters.