Citizens Not Politicians rallies in Mansfield to end gerrymandering in Ohio

MANSFIELD — About 20 advocates of fair elections from across Ohio met at Local 169 of the United Steel Workers in Mansfield on Saturday for a signature-gathering effort to ensure a proposed constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering in Ohio qualifies for the November ballot.

Ohioans from both parties are tired of having their issues ignored because legislative and congressional maps are drawn in ways that limit fair political representation, said Matt Smith, legislative director for the Ohio AFL-CIO.

“Communities around Ohio are taking action because it’s time for everyone’s voices to be heard in the political arena,” Smith said.

The proposed Citizens Not Politicians Amendment would replace the current process run entirely by politicians with a new process run by Ohio citizens.

Gerrymandering is the practice by which politicians draw political boundaries to give themselves an unfair advantage, undermining fair representation and leading to political stagnation and ineffective policy.

Ohio is recognized as one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation, the group stated.

“Ohioans want and deserve elected office holders who truly represent their constituents and not just the politicians who drew the maps that helped them take office,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters.

“Every day, Ohioans from Toledo to Portsmouth and Cleveland to Cincinnati are collecting signatures to end gerrymandering forever in the Buckeye State.”

More than 9 million Ohioans, or 77% of the state population, live in districts where one party has a severe advantage in the 2024 Ohio House of Representatives elections, according to an analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law.

In addition, Ohio’s partisan map-drawing process meant that nearly half of the 99-member Ohio House lacked a competitive primary contest to nominate the likely winners for the upcoming general election, the Brennan analysis found.

The nonpartisan group Citizens Not Politicians has volunteers across Ohio collecting signatures. They must collect more than 413,000 valid signatures by July 3 to qualify for the November ballot.

The Citizens Not Politicians Amendment would:

  • Create the 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission made up of Republican, Democratic and independent citizens who broadly represent the different geographic areas and demographics of the state.
  • Ban current or former politicians, political party officials, and lobbyists from sitting on the commission.
  • Require fair and impartial districts by making it unconstitutional to draw voting districts that discriminate against or favor any political party or individual politician.
  • Require the commission to operate under an open and independent process.

Read more here.