Ohio: A Redistricting Case Study
Happy Friday. We’ve chatted a little in the past about redistricting and the census, but as a quick refresher:
Every 10 years, the government takes a count, or a census, of every person living in the country. They then use that information to allocate resources to states and communities proportionate to the number of people living there. The census is also used for redistricting, which means that after each census, the lines of congressional districts are redrawn, with the goal of making sure each district has roughly the same number of people and that the state’s political representation is, well, representative.
Unfortunately, this process is complicated by something called gerrymandering, in which politicians pick and choose which voters they’d like to have in their districts, drawing district lines that give them the best chance at a certain outcome. So today, we’re talking about an example of this that’s happening in real-time in Ohio.
This month, Ohio’s “bipartisan”* redistricting commission drew and approved a new legislative map that would permanently guarantee one party a supermajority in the Ohio General Assembly. This new map would also intentionally weaken the voting power of Ohio’s Black and Muslim communities, both by dividing them between district to minimize their influence (a practice known as “cracking”), and by cramming them into the fewest number of districts possible (a practice known as “packing”).
*We put “bipartisan” in quotes because, although there are representatives from both parties on the commission, the majority didn’t even try to fake cooperation-- they drew and passed the maps on a party-line vote, with no input from the minority.
Ohioans and voting rights advocates aren’t taking this one lying down. Three lawsuits have already been filed against the Ohio Redistricting Commission, by groups like the Brennan Center for Justice, Muslim advocacy group CAIR-Ohio, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the League of Women’s Voters, the Ohio Environmental Council, and a few dozen individual Ohioans.
We know this is just the beginning-- 2021 will see every state in the country redraw their legislative maps, and we’re sure to see more attempts at partisan gerrymandering. While we continue to fight for fair maps, fair representation, and fair elections, we at the Voter Formation Project are going to do everything we can to ensure that every voter has the power to make their voice heard, this year and beyond.
Thanks for reading, y’all!
“American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” – James Baldwin