OHIO VALLEY — As voters head to the polls on Tuesday — or sooner with early voting — they will not only be deciding on candidates, but a pair of statewide issues.
Issue 2 is a proposed amendment involving redistricting, while Issue 1 is mandated by the Ohio Constitution to appear every 20 years since 1932.
Issue 1 asks voters if there should be a convention formed to alter, revise or amend the constitution of the state. If approved, delegates are subsequently to be elected by the people, and if the convention proposes changes to the constitution, the changes too are to be voted upon by the people.
The issue has been voted down each time it has appeared on the ballot. A yes vote would establish a convention to change the constitution.
Issue 2 effects the redistricting of congressional and legislative districts within the State of Ohio. Currently, the districts are redrawn by the Ohio General Assembly every 10 years in accordance with census figures.
The proposed constitutional amendment would remove the authority of elected representatives to establish congressional and state legislative district lines. A commission would be established of appointed officials to establish the political boundaries for the state.
If the amendment passes, a state funded commission of appointed officials would be selected from a limited pool of applicants. There will be 12 members on the commission — four affiliated with the largest political party, four affiliated with the second largest political party, and four not affiliated with either of the two parties.
Members of the commission will be selected by judges from the court of appeals in Ohio. According to the proposed amendment, the panel of judges would appoint an independent auditor to assist in determining the eligibility of potential commission members.
The proposed amendment goes into great detail about the guidelines for selection of the commission members, included the role of elected officials in the selection of the final commission members.
If approved, the amendment would require new legislative and congressional districts to be immediately established by the Commission to replace the most recent districts adopted by elected representatives, which districts shall not be challenged except by court order until the next federal decennial census and apportionment. Affirmative votes of 7 of 12 Commission members are needed to select a plan. In the event the Commission is not able to determine a plan by October 1, the Ohio Supreme Court would need to adopt a plan from all the plans submitted to the Commission.
Current congressional and legislative districts were established prior to this year’s primary election by members of the Ohio General Assembly. If passed, district would be redrawn prior to the 2014 election according to other media reports.
The amendment would repeal current constitutional requirements for drawing legislative districts that avoid splits to counties, townships, municipalities and city wards where possible, and when not possible, limiting such divisions to only one division per governmental unit, and also repeals requirements to form as many whole legislative districts solely within a county as possible. The foregoing would be replaced and require the Commission to adopt a plan that complies with all applicable federal and state constitutional provisions, federal statutory provisions, and the contiguity requirement and that most closely meets the factors of community preservation, competitiveness, representational fairness, and compactness. The Commission would also be required not to draw or adopt a plan with an intent to favor or disfavor a political party, incumbent, or potential candidate.
The General Assembly would be required to appropriate all funds necessary to adequately fund the activities of the Commission including, but not be limited to, compensating staff, consultants, legal counsel, and commission members.
The amendment would become effective 30 days after the election if approved by voters.