Ohio Redistricting Amendment, Issue 4 (2005)

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The Ohio Redistricting Amendment, also known as Issue 4, was on the November 8, 2005 ballot in Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.[1] This amendment would have changed the way that state legislative districts in Ohio are drawn.

Election results

Ohio Issue 4 (2005)
Defeatedd No2,005,95269.70%
Yes 871,898 30.30%

Election results via the Ohio Secretary of State.[2]

Text of measure

See also: Ohio Constitution, Article XI

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3]

(Proposed by Initiative Petition)

To amend Article XI of the Constitution of the State of Ohio.

To provide for the creation of a state redistricting commission with responsibility for creating legislative districts, this amendment would:

  • Replace the current provisions of Article XI of the Ohio Constitution, including the two existing separate processes for creating legislative districts and for electing representatives to Congress and representatives and senators to the Ohio General Assembly with a new state commission.
  • Provide that the new commission would be composed of five members, two of whom would be chosen by sitting judges, and the remaining members appointed by the first two or chosen by lot. The terms of the members of the commission shall be until the later of the adoption of the redistricting plans required to be adopted under the Article or the conclusion of all litigation in any court regarding such plans or the commission's responsibilities, actions or operations.
  • Provide that a primary criterion to be utilized by the new commission in creating legislative districts would be to ensure that the districts are competitive, according to a mathematical formula contained in the Amendment.
  • Provide that the commission must adopt a qualifying plan with the highest "competitiveness number," as defined in the proposed Amendment. The Amendment defines the "competitiveness number" of a plan by a mathematical formula, that is the product of the number of balanced districts multiplied by two, plus the total number of other remaining competitive districts, minus the total number of unbalanced uncompetitive districts multiplied by two. The competitiveness number for a general assembly plan is the sum of the competitiveness number for the house of representatives districts and the competitiveness number for the senate districts. Provide that the "measure of competition" of a legislative district be based on a calculation using the two average partisan indexes for the district, which are calculated on the basis of the percentage of votes received by each of the two partisan candidates who received the two highest vote totals statewide in each of the three closest general elections during the four previous even-numbered years prior to adopting a redistricting plan, keeping the index for one of the partisan affiliations always as the minuend and the index for the other partisan affiliation always as the subtrahend from district to district throughout a redistricting plan.
  • Provide that the commission may consider whether to alter a plan to preserve communities of interest based on geography, economics, or race, so long as the reconfiguration does not result in a competitiveness number that is more than two points lower for a congressional plan and four points lower for a general assembly plan.
  • Provide that the commission may design and adopt a redistricting plan if the plan meets the same criteria and has a competitive number equal to or greater than each submitted qualifying plan.
  • Provide a method for the commission to assign state districts for senators whose term do not expire at the end of the first even-numbered year following adoption of the plan.
  • Provide that legislative district boundaries shall change in 2007 and, thereafter, every year ending in one following a federal decennial census.
  • Provide that the supreme court of Ohio has exclusive original jurisdiction involving redistricting plans adopted under the amendment, but limits such jurisdiction to ordering the commission to perform duties required under the amendment and prohibit the court from revising or adopting a plan.
  • Provide for open meetings, public hearings, and certain public record requirements regarding the activities of the commission.
  • Provide that the general assembly must appropriate sufficient funds for the commission to perform its duties. The commission may expend funds as it, in its discretion, deems necessary.
A majority yes vote is necessary for passage

Shall the proposed amendment be adopted? [4]


Arguments in favor

The following reasons were given in support of Issue 4 by Reform Ohio Now:[3]

Vote YES to restore competitiveness to Congressional and State legislative races in Ohio.

Issue 4 will help make politicians more accountable and responsive to constituents.

Issue 4 will combat corruption in state government by making politicians listen more to constituents and less to big donors and special interests.

Issue 4 designates an independent, nonpartisan commission to draw legislative districts with a goal of making the districts competitive, while preserving communities and minority rights.

The independent commission will replace the current system, which allows politicians to draw the districts to serve their own partisan interests. Currently, using sophisticated computer models, the political party in power manipulates the districts to maximize the number of seats it is likely to win and minimize the number likely to be won by the opposing party. The result is “safe seats” where incumbents almost never lose.

Consider these shocking statistics, which reflect the problem nationally and in Ohio:

  • In 435 U.S. House races last year, only 13 seats changed party;
  • In Ohio, every Congressman and State Senator up for election was re-elected and only a handful of State House incumbents lost;
  • In Ohio, the average margins of victory were 44 points in Congressional races, 35 points in State Senate races, and 38 points in State House races.

As one commentator states, “Competitive elections for the state legislature and Congress, with a handful of exceptions, no longer exist in Ohio.”

Issue 4 will restore accountability by making elections meaningful again and in so doing make corruption less likely. Applying strict criteria in the amendment and considering proposals from the public the independent commission will maximize the number of competitive districts in Ohio and enhance the influence of all voters in the electoral process. RESTORE CONFIDENCE END CORRUPTION VOTE YES[4]

Campaign contributions

Supporters of Issue 4 spent $4.93 million, most of which came from Reform Ohio Now, which spent $3.03 million. The main donors to this committee were:[5]

Citizens to End Corruption spent $1.9 million. Their main donors were:[5]


Arguments against

The following reasons were given in opposition of Issue 4 by the Committee to Provide Argument Against Issue 4:[3]

Vote No on Issue 4 for the following reasons.
  • First, Ohio voters lose the ability to hold public officials accountable in the process to create districts for the Ohio General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. Instead, the proposed amendment would place this power in the hands of a new commission that is made up of 5 political appointees. Two of the commission members would be selected by judges and the others may be chosen by lot. The members of the commission would not be required to meet any minimum level of qualifications. Once appointed, the commissioners would serve for an indefinite period of time, and would never be accountable to Ohio voters.
  • Second, the proposed amendment would grant the commission virtually unlimited power to spend Ohio tax dollars with essentially no control by Ohio voters or other state leaders. No other state commission has this extraordinary spending power.
  • Third, although today the Ohio Constitution protects your right to vote for someone who represents your community or neighborhood, the proposed amendment would require the commission to focus on political parties. The proposal expressly allows districts to be gerrymandered to ensure that one party or the other wins, rather than ensure that all Ohioans have a fair chance to have a representative who shares their point of view.
  • Finally, the proposed amendment would remove from the Ohio Constitution the authority of Ohio’s courts to review the commission’s activities. Therefore, unlike all other Ohio public officials, political subdivisions, boards, commissions, and agencies, Ohio citizens would have virtually no ability to challenge the actions of this unelected commission in Ohio’s courts. The commission should not be uniquely unaccountable and placed above the law.

For these reasons,


Campaign contributions

The Ohio First Voter Education Fund spent about $5.2 million in opposition. The main donors to this committee were:[5]

  • Carl Lindner, $500,000.
  • Richard Farmer, $300,000.
  • John McConnell, $300,000.
  • Ohio Association of Realtors, $180,000.
  • First Energy Corporation, $150,000.
  • Timken Co., $150,000.

See also

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