Ohio redistricting amendment campaign submits hundreds of thousands of voter signatures in bid to make November ballot

Campaign workers with the Citizens Not Politicians redistricting amendment unload boxes of petitions at a loading dock for the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office in Columbus on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com)Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio is one step closer to having a high-stakes redistricting reform amendment on the November ballot, after backers submitted hundreds of thousands of voter signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office on Monday.

The Citizens Not Politicians campaign says it turned in 731,306 voter signatures, after the group spent the past seven months circulating petitions around the state. Of those signatures, at least 413,487 must be valid, including a baseline in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

The signature number is slightly lower than the 750,000 a redistricting campaign affiliate shared last week, which reflects signatures that were weeded out following an internal review. But it’s still higher than the roughly 710,000 signatures the successful abortion-rights amendment campaign submitted last year, a sign that the redistricting amendment is likely to qualify.

Maureen O’Connor, a retired Republican Ohio Supreme Court chief justice who’s a key leader with the campaign, headlined an amendment campaign rally at the Ohio Statehouse Monday afternoon. O’Connor cast the deciding vote in a series of decisions in 2021 and 2022 that found district maps drawn by the Republican-controlled Ohio Restricting Commission unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. If voters end up approving the amendment, it would replace the redistricting commission with a 15-member citizen’s panel made up of equal parts Republicans, Democrats and political independents.

“Seven times my colleagues on the Ohio Supreme Court and I issued bipartisan rulings finding the politician drawn maps were unconstitutional,” O’Connor said during her speech. “Seven times the politicians thumbed their nose at the citizens and trampled on the rule of law and forced gerrymandered maps on our voters. Well ladies and gentlemen, those days are over.”

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