Friday, July 06, 2012

Voters First: okay to sign petition for your brother

Voters First is a group primarily made up of unions and Democrats who want to change the way Ohio draws its congressional districts. They want to create an un-elected board of citizens to draw the lines, instead of letting the Ohio legislature do the job.

In order to make this change, they circulated petitions to put a constitutional amendment before voters. The signed petitions have been submitted and are in the process of having the signatures verified. If they have enough valid signatures, we'll see the item on the November ballot.

But this July 3 video from the Ohio Republican Party calls into question the tactics, as well as the signatures:

Yep, even though you've already signed, it's okay for you to sign again using someone else's name.

But that's not all. In this video, taken on June 6, a petitioner tells a man that it's okay to sign the petition even though the man does not live in Ohio:

I'm opposed to the Voters First proposal. They don't like the districts that resulted from the last re-drawing and since Democrats in the legislature failed to timely submit their own proposal, this seems like sour grapes to me.

I also do not like the fact that an un-elected board will make the decisions. Having individuals with no accountability to anyone does not improve the current process in which districts are drawn by elected individuals who are accountable to the voters.

Furthermore, I see much more room for partisan influence in this proposed body than in the current process. Because Ohio lost population, we had to eliminate two districts. The legislature eliminated one Republican-held district and one Democrat-held district. How much more even-handed can you get?

Voters First claims that by having non-elected individuals draw the lines, we'll end up with better districts and less gerrymandering to create Republican- or Democrat-leaning ones. But the predominance of Democrats in larger cities and Republicans in rural areas, combined with the laws on discrimination and voting, make drawing districts extremely difficult to begin with and there is no guarantee that any other group will do any better than what we already have.

They say they want "politically balanced" districts - not "safe districts," but also want to keep communities together inside a district. There is no way to draw a district that includes the city of Toledo or the city of Cleveland and not end up with a 'safe' district for a Democrat. Their goal of keeping the 'community' (city) together is incompatible with a "politically balanced" district.

Besides, as we've all seen, no matter how much they claim a board will be non-partisan, they always end up being exactly that.

I'd rather have the elected representatives do this than rely upon a group of people I, as a voter, have no control over. This is the opposite of 'voters first.'

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