In February, we praised the state House and Senate for backing a serious effort to reform the way Ohio draws congressional districts. By margins of 83-10 (in the House) and 31-0 (in the Senate), lawmakers voted to place on the May 8 ballot a constitutional amendment to reduce the practice of manipulating congressional district boundaries that's commonly known as gerrymandering.
The overwhelming bipartisan support for a measure on the most partisan of subjects was unusual, and it was a fair indicator that what's now known as Issue 1 is a good first step toward introducing more balance to the drawing of Ohio's political map. We encourage a "yes" vote on the amendment.
Congressional boundaries have been distorted by a number of factors, most prominently greater technological sophistication that enables political parties to identify likely voters with a high degree of precision. Parties — Republicans of late, though this shifts over time — have responded by drawing districts for maximum political advantage. This increasingly has drawn the attention of federal and state courts, as well it should, since gerrymandering that leads to highly skewed districts undermines voters' faith in the democratic process.
The proposal facing Ohio voters would require three-fifths support of the Legislature to pass a map for use over 10 years, and that three-fifths must include 50% of members of the minority party. It also would establish a maximum number of counties that can be split by congressional districts.
There are many things wrong with our politics these days. Issue 1 helps address one of them.