Editorial: Disregarding will of people to maintain dominance


A recent editorial by the Columbus Dispatch:

Ohio voters, we have egg all over our faces.

How silly of us to think that the state’s top elected officials would compromise on a map that would fairly divide state House and Senate districts.

It is only what constitutional amendments overwhelmingly approved by the people require.

We were fooled once, and we will likely be fooled again, when the process for dividing up congressional districts begins soon.

Lawmaker’s first deadline for a map is Thursday, Sept. 30, but it is likely to be missed due to the high threshold of support needed from Republicans and Democrats for approval.

The task will then shift the to the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission.

Voters should prepare to have their will trashed once again.

Republican members of the anything-but-bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission grossly misused voting percentages to justify continuing Ohio’s unacceptable tradition of rigging the system for the party in charge.

The commission vote was five “yes” votes from the five Republicans to two “no” votes from the two Democrats.

“The commission determined that the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio predominantly favor Republican candidates,” said a Republican statement released before the approval.

In other words, the party dominating the Statehouse due to gerrymandering determined that voters want the party dominating the Statehouse due to gerrymandering to continue to dominate the state with gerrymandering.

Inexplicably, they “reasoned” that the statewide proportion of voters favoring Republicans is between 55% to 81% and the proportion favoring Democrats is between 19% and 45%.

That all somehow means that Republicans deserve a 62-37 advantage in the House and a 23-10 majority in the Senate.

Huh?

The reality is that the total number of votes cast in the 16 statewide partisan contests in the past 10 years races favored Republicans 54% to Democrats 46% (near the lower end of the scale Republicans endorse).

Based on how people vote for statewide contests, Ohio is a right leaning state, but it is not dominated by Republicans.

It is deceptive to say otherwise.

More than that, it is remarkable that Senate President Matt Huffman, a Republican and member the commission, was able to write the sentence “the General Assembly truly represents the voice of the people, district to district and town to town” with a straight face as part of his recent guest column for Dispatch readers.

The voting percentage the commission clearly ignored was the 71% of Ohioans who in 2015 voted for a fairer process for drawing legislative districts.

The 2015 constitutional amendments and one in 2018 sought to change the way officials draw voting district boundaries.

Instead, our leaders decided to once again stiff voters out of fair representation.

… The Republicans have the power but blew their chance to be heroes for democracy.

Gov. Mike DeWine, Auditor Keith Faber and Secretary of State Frank LaRose pushed for compromise during a process that does not appear to have involved negotiation or consideration of the mountain of voter input offered.

That’s fine, but like the other members of the commission, the trio gets a failing grade.

They knowingly put the will of voters on the back burner by voting for the map instead of pushing for more negotiation.

“We know that this matter will be in court,” said DeWine, a Republican and commission member. “What I am sure in my heart is that this committee could have come up with a bill that was much more clearly constitutional. I’m sorry that we did not do that.”

Saying “sorry” after betraying voters is far from adequate.

You do not get a gold star for saying something is wrong and doing it anyway.

… Lawmakers and members of the commission have a chance to get things right when they draw the congressional district.

Voters, let’s not hold our breath or let the egg dry. Flood the commission members with your thoughts on this. Here are their names and email addresses:

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R): 614-466-9624, rep04ohiohouse.gov

Senate President Matt Huffman (R) : 614-466-7584, huffmanohiosenate.gov

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D) 614-466-3100, rep34ohiohouse.gov

Senator Vernon Sykes (D), 614-466-7041, sykesohiosenate.gov

Auditor Keith Faber (R): 614-466-4514, CentralRegionohioauditor.gov, StateRegionohioauditor.gov

Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R): 614-466-0562, FLaRoseohiosos.gov

Auditor Keith Faber (R) : 614-466-4514, contactusohioauditor.gov

Gov. Mike DeWine (R): 614-644-4357, 614-466-3555

— Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 24