To the Editor:
Bowling Green residents should be angered by the recent actions of our state redistricting commission.
This seven-member panel is charged with creating fair district maps for the election of statehouse representatives and senators for the next 10 years. This process is mandated by a 2015 amendment to the Ohio Constitution that was approved by an overwhelming majority of Ohio voters (71.47%), including 81% of voters in Bowling Green.
Regrettably, the commission is badly imbalanced in favor of one party and consists of five Republican and two Democratic members. The result is a commission that clearly aims to retain partisan advantage for incumbent politicians contrary to the express will of a majority of Ohio voters.
This week the five Republican members announced they had finally produced a map. This violated provisions of our constitutional reforms because Democratic members were shut out of the process, resulting in a total lack of transparency. As of the writing of this letter, the identity of the Republican expert tasked with drafting balanced maps has not been disclosed.
When the secret map was finally unveiled it became obvious that other requirements had been disregarded. Just as before, minority and Democratic voters are either divided into diluted districts or packed together to minimize their representation. Despite winning less than 54% of the vote in each of the last two elections, Republicans have managed to use this process to finagle a supermajority in both houses (73% in the Ohio Senate and 62% in the Ohio House). Allowing politicians to exploit the system creates a lack of accountability and fosters the corrupt practices that have become all too common in recent years.
To add insult to injury, Republicans announced the required public hearings on their proposed map with only one day of notice and no provisions in place for submitting testimony remotely. This further limits the possibility to participate for anyone who lives outside the Columbus area or who may be at high risk of contracting COVID as the Delta variant surges across our state.
All of these failures to meet the standards that voters in Ohio and Bowling Green have demanded make it clear that Republicans plan to rely on gerrymandered maps yet again. This is decidedly not what the people of our state and our city had in mind when we voted for fair maps.
Bowling Green councilman at-large