(The Center Square) – Ohio voters moved closer to removing redistricting from the General Assembly.
A potential constitutional amendment received approval from the Ohio Ballot Board, and now organizers begin the process of gathering enough valid signatures for the questions to appear on the ballot next year.
The board originally said the proposed amendment contained only a single issue, but the group pushing for the change notified Attorney General Dave Yost it had made an error in the language, requiring it to gather another 1,000 signatures and start the process again.
Yost approved the language in late October, and the ballot board recently reaffirmed its vote on the proposed amendment that would create a 15-member citizen redistricting commission to draw district lines.
“The current system is deeply flawed because politicians – Democrats and Republicans – draw districts to favor their own political interests,” former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, one of the leaders of the effort, said in a statement. “Ohio is one of the country’s most gerrymandered states, and this proposal would end that by empowering citizens, not politicians, to draw fair districts using an open and independent process.”
The group must collect 413,487 valid signatures by July 3 to qualify for the 2024 November general election ballot.
Those signatures must come from voters in at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and, for each of those counties, the number must equal at least 5% of the vote cast in the most recent gubernatorial election.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission unanimously approved state legislative maps at the end of September to be used until 2030.
In May 2018, Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment that was expected to create a bipartisan redistricting commission. The commission consists of seven members – a member appointed by the Senate president, the House speaker, Senate minority leader and House minority leader, the governor, state auditor and the secretary of state.