Good ideas come out of Ohio? Huh, who knew?
For those not in the know, gerrymandering is a practice in which every ten years – after that decade’s census has been taken – political districts are redrawn by the ruling party to give one party and electoral advantage over another.
Depending on whether you support the majority party, gerrymandering is either the greatest injustice or the proverbial cherry-on-top for winning the most recent election. But for everyone else, gerrymandering is the herpes of American politics. You contracted it sometime around 1810 and every ten years – just when you have totally forgotten about it – it flares up ruining democracy. For years the practice has always been a necessary evil in American democracy. Ohio is looking to change that.
In Ohio state legislature’s last session, it approved a proposal that would hand over redistricting duties to a bipartisan council. The proposed seven member council would in theory be non-partisan requiring at least two minority party members to participate. The council itself would include the governor, secretary of state, the state auditor, and two legislators from each chamber (making sure that both legislators from a chamber are from opposite parties).
While on the surface it sounds as if nothing has changed there is a slight caveat to all this. If at least two members of the minority party, within the council, don’t agree to the changes, then the newly drawn electoral districts will only be applicable for four years instead of the usual ten. Since the majority party knows that political power could change hands by the time redistricting were to happen again, it would be in their best interest to create a lasting solution while they still have control.
It’s a smart idea and works better than past ideas like California’s independent commission where many reformers have concerns because the California act only benefits moderates. Ohio’s idea would actually make both parties compromise, which could mean fairer elections.
Which is something we all can get behind.
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)