In 1812, Mass. Gov. Elbridge Gerry redrew his state’s electoral boundaries to benefit his political party in future elections. Some of Boston’s redrawn districts looked eerily like a salamander, and a cartoon that ran in a local newspaper derisively dubbed those districts a “Gerrymander.”

Last year, the Ohio Apportionment Board redrew the boundary lines for the 132 seats of the Ohio General Assembly and the 16 U.S. Congressional seats. This event should have been an open, non-partisan process. However, what took place was gerrymandering, pure and simple.

After holding secret backroom meetings, using a national political consultant and paying two top Republican staffers nearly a quarter-million dollars, Ohio’s electoral map was gerrymandered beyond recognition.

The end result was a political map that benefitted politicians, ensuring their party’s candidates would be elected without competition. Bizarre districts zigzag across Ohio and skip across Lake Erie, dividing cities and counties. More than 80 percent of the electoral districts aren’t competitive. This means your vote won’t count in the next election.

If the current map stays in place and one more Republican is elected to the legislature, they can place Constitutional amendments on the ballot and bypass the referendum process. If seven more Republicans are elected to the legislature, any law that is passed will be “veto-proof” and can be implemented immediately as “emergency” legislation. Imagine this scenario when SB 5 was passed.

Voters First, a coalition of more than 25 Ohio non-partisan organizations led by the League of Women Voters, is circulating petitions to amend Ohio’s Constitution.

This amendment would create the Ohio Citizens’ Redistricting Committee, a twelve-member group that would decide the boundaries of electoral districts. The committee would be comprised of four Republicans, four Democrats and four voters with no party affiliation. Politicians, lobbyists, corporations and other special interest groups could not be members. The committee would eliminate backroom deals and ensure open, honest and competitive elections.

Right now, we need your signature and petition-circulating skills to obtain the 385,000 signatures required to get this amendment on the November ballot. We need to make sure that the voters choose their elected officials instead of letting the politicians choose their voters.

We need you to sign and to circulate petitions. Call Judy Nelson at the CEA office at 253-4731 to take action now.

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