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Ensure redistricting reform is enacted

DEAR EDITOR:

In 2021, all 50 states will reconfigure their voting districts based on results of the 2020 Census. In the past, Ohio’s method of redistricting has allowed the party that holds power during redistricting years to control this process. Predictably, regardless of which party was in power, it used this power to establish districts based on what was likely to benefit them in future elections, not on what made most sense for their constituents.

In 2015 and 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly passed reforms that would curb this abuse, called gerrymandering. These reforms promote the establishment of districts that make most sense for voters, not districts that will benefit one political party over another.

Districts that work best for constituents are geographically compact and include whole communities with shared interests. Counties, townships and cities are included intact, if at all possible, within the same district, so that discreet communities are represented by the same elected official.

Because the current congressional districts were drawn with the overarching goal of providing the party in power with a significant advantage in 75 percent of Ohio’s congressional districts, many of Ohio’s districts are not compact. Political subdivisions throughout the state were split up for the sole purpose of achieving this 75 percent goal. As an example, Summit County, which is small enough to be included in one congressional district, was split into four pieces, represented by four different congressional representatives. In our area, the legacy “gift” of a previous gerrymander has resulted in Mahoning County being divided and made a part of two districts.

Democracy works much better when voters choose their elected representatives, rather than the other way around. In order for us to accomplish this transition in Ohio, we must advocate that the reforms passed by more than 70 percent of voters — and passed in all 88 counties — are implemented as intended.

To learn more about 2021 redistricting process and how you can support the implementation of these reforms, please visit www.fairdistrictsohio.org.

KATHLEEN GAIGE

Voter Services Chair

League of Women Voters of Greater Youngstown

Canfiel

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