Ohio Redistricting Amendment, Issue 2 (2012)

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Issue 2
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Type:initiated constitutional amendment
Topic:Redistricting measures
An Ohio Redistricting Amendment, also known as Issue 2, was on the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have created a 12-person citizen commission to draw legislative and congressional district maps. According to supporters of the measure, the commission would have created districts that would reflect the state's geographic, racial, ethnic and political diversity. The initiative would have also barred lobbyists and elected officials from joining the commission.[1]

Currently, the Ohio Legislature redraws district maps every ten years due to population shifts.

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are official election results:

Ohio Issue 2
Defeatedd No3,088,35363.2%
Yes 1,800,073 36.8%

These results are from the Ohio Secretary of State

Text of the measure

Ballot language

The ballot language of the measure read as follows:[2]

The proposed amendment would:

1. Remove the authority of elected representatives and grant new authority to appointed officials to establish congressional and state legislative district lines.

2. Create a state funded commission of appointed officials from a limited pool of applicants to replace the aforementioned. The Commission will consist of 12 members as follows: four affiliated with the largest political party, four affiliated with the second largest political party and four not affiliated with either of the two largest political parties. Affirmative votes of 7 of 12 members are needed to select a plan.

3. Require new legislative and congressional districts be immediately established by the Commission to replace the most recent districts adopted by elected representatives, which districts shall not be challenged except by court order until the next federal decennial census and apportionment. In the event the Commission is not able to determine a plan by October 1, the Ohio Supreme Court would need to adopt a plan from all the plans submitted to the Commission.

4. Change the standards and requirements in the Constitution for drawing legislative and congressional districts.

5. Mandate the General Assembly to appropriate all funds as determined by the Commission including, but not be limited to, compensating:

1. Staff
2. Consultants
3. Legal counsel
4. Commission members

If approved, the amendment will be effective thirty days after the election.

Shall the amendment be approved?[3]


  • Voters First was the main group in favor of the measure. The organization spearheaded the initiative effort. Other organizations, such as We Are Ohio, also helped with the petition drive.[4]
  • According to Catherine Turcer, chair of Voters First, at the time of the signature submission deadline on July 4, 2012, "We're celebrating Independence Day the way that you should. Thinking about our forefathers; thinking about the quality of our vote; thinking about what we as voters can do to actually make a difference."[5]


The following were arguments submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State in favor of the measure:

  • "When it comes to how Ohio’s districts are created, the current system is not balanced, not transparent and not accountable to We the People."
  • "The current system allows politicians to play by their own rules. Every ten years, they get together in backrooms—out of the public eye—and draw district lines to help ensure that their own political party holds on to power."
  • "Ohio needs this reform, so neither party can rig the system to their own advantage."
  • "The only way to take back control of our government is to change the system."



The following were opponents of the measure:[6]

  • The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation
  • The Ohio Manufacturers' Association
  • The Ohio Judicial Conference
  • The Ohio Chamber of Commerce


  • The Cincinnati USA Regional chamber stated, "Oppose Ohio Issue 2, Ohio Redistricting: The Ohio redistricting amendment, if passed, will establish a 12-person citizen commission to draw General Assembly and congressional districts following the decennial census. The Chamber opposes Issue 2 and urges a “no” vote because it removes accountability to voters. If passed, Issue 2 would replace elected officials with an unelected, unaccountable, citizen commission with unlimited funds to redraw congressional and General Assembly district lines, while excluding some Ohioans from serving on the commission."[7]

The following are arguments submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State in opposition of the measure:

  • "This large new government bureaucracy can demand unlimited tax dollars to operate."
  • "Commission members set their own salaries."
  • "The commission can hire a large permanent staff and dozens of expensive lawyers and political consultants."
  • "Vote No on Issue 2. It forces taxpayers to give nearly UNLIMITED FUNDING to an UNELECTED and UNACCOUNTABLE commission."

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Ohio ballot measures, 2012


  • The Akron Beacon Journal stated, "...the crucial question involving Issue 2 is: How, exactly, would the redrawing be achieved? Unfortunately, deep in the proposed constitutional amendment’s complexities are flaws so serious they undermine the ultimate goal. More, once embedded in the constitution, those flaws would be most difficult to fix, requiring another amendment and the approval of voters. We recommend a no vote on state Issue 2 on Nov. 6."[8]
  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer stated opposition to the measure.[9]


2012 measure lawsuits
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List of ballot measure lawsuits in 2012

Voters First v. The Ohio Ballot Board

The coalition in favor of the amendment, Voters First, filed a lawsuit with the Ohio Supreme Court on August 23, 2012 that challenged the ballot wording formulated by the Ohio Ballot Board.

According to the lawsuit, the group challenged that the wording wasn't fair or accurate. The lawsuit asked the court to reconvene the board to come up with new language or to have the high court write the language instead of the board.

The formal title of the court case was State ex rel. Voters First, Ann Henkener, Samuel Gresham, Jr., Ellis Jacobs, Richard Gunther, and Dan Tokaji v. The Ohio Ballot Board and Hon. Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled during the week of September 11, 2012 that the wording of the measure was "defective" and "misleads voters." As a result, the ballot language that would be placed in front of voters was ordered to be rewritten.[10]

On September 13, 2012, the Ohio Ballot Board met to change the description in order to comply with the high court's orders. That same day, the ballot language was doubled in length.

Path to the ballot

Supporters turned in 1,700 signatures to the Ohio Attorney General's office, along with the ballot measure's wording, as mandated by state initiative law.[1]

On April 5, the Ohio Ballot Board approved ballot language for the redistricting amendment.[11] Supporters of the proposal had until July 4, 2012 to turn in the 385,247 signatures required to place the measure on the ballot. According to the Ohio Secretary of State's office, when contacted by Ballotpedia that day, supporters of the measure turned in signatures by the deadline.

A total of more than 406,000 valid signatures were certified, meaning that the initiative effort met the necessary requirements to make the ballot.[12]

See also