Debate Forum Left, 10/4/11

Cheaters never prosper; unless they control Ohio

By Jolene Pohl

Jolene Pohl

It is obvious the Ohio Republican-controlled Legislature has very little interest in encouraging citizenship participation in government since the governor’s redistricting map adds confusion and creates complications. The Apportionment Board’s new plan is partisan and simply ridiculous. The plan includes seven different counties throughout the state with least three different districts each. For example, Akron is located in Summit County, which is similar to Montgomery County in size but has been broken into four districts. If you live in the north corner, your Representative is LaTourette, if you live in the middle (sort of) your Representative is Fudge or Sutton, or possibly Renacci because it really depends on how close to the southern part of the county you live.

Disenfranchising voters by distancing them from their congressional leaders may be the only way the Republican Party knows how to hold power. If smaller government and more involvement by the people were really a priority to the GOP then why hasn’t Governor Kasich reviewed his new plan with voters in the affected districts? Kasich approved a map that fragments a majority of the counties in the state, yet the public has had little involvement on how their area is represented.

Thankfully the League of Women Voters (LWV) is paying attention. Their website’s Take Action page calls out the GOP on the “backroom gerrymandered redistricting” plan. The League highlights an alternative to the plan, which does not fragment as many counties and will keep the voice of the constituents intact. The LWV summarizes the significance of the problems with the Governor’s new plan: “It is critical to have an open, transparent and accountable redistricting process to ensure voters’ interests — not politicians’ self-interests — are represented.” The LWV has provided a non-partisan voice in politics for the past 91 years. Recently a map was completed to redistrict Ohio appropriate to the new census data. The LWV advocates this approach to avoid confusion and lack of citizenship participation in elections. The map is a result of a contest held by the League and a Republican state legislator from Illinois drew the winning entry. The lines cohere more with the traditional county lines.

According to a recent article about the LWV’s approach, “The contest uses the elections of 2008 and 2010 to judge Ohio’s overall political balance. That results in the conclusion that the state leans Republican by 51.4 percent … The contest puts the work of the official map-drawing board under a new kind of scrutiny.”

The governor’s official plan only creates two competitive districts, in contrast to the LWV’s map, which creates 11. For anyone not interested in the specifics, the simple truth is the results of Kasich’s plan will make life much more difficult for people who need to be in touch with representatives. You and/or your neighbors will not be able to be heard as clearly as you should be and this means there is a lot more bureaucracy in the way of your rights as a taxpaying citizen. “Taxation with little or hardly any representation” should be the Ohio GOP’s new motto.

As for the Republican bi-partisan plan suggested by a previous senator who is now Secretary of State Jon Husted, it seems he is not as adamant about his idea anymore. The Ohio Legislature is just not interested in updating the system anytime soon. There is discussion of including a bi-partisan plan in future sessions but no real outcry aside from Stark County’s Ralph Regula. Regula, a Republican who served the 16th District in Congress for 36 years, calls the new redistricting plan “outrageous.” His area is going to be divided into three separate districts.

“One of the key elements of a congressional district is that people have to know where to go when they need help. They’ve got to know who their congressman is, and the people of Stark County are not going to know,” said Regula who was quoted on a recent Massillon, Ohio website. Members of his party don’t seem to be quite as concerned that a decade of disenfranchised voters will occur before the legislation makes the system work for taxpayers.

There is so much tiresome bickering in politics that the public is weary of hearing complaints from a Democratic Representative or a Republican Representative about the fairness of their district borders. It is understandable that people are exhausted with the constant background noise of political finger-pointing because it is unnecessary chatter which distracts people. If we are looking for leadership in this time of confusion, the Ohio legislation has completely missed the ample chance to act responsibly. Creating frustration for an already tired public is going to be difficult for the GOP to shake off despite the advantage it may bring over the next ten years.

The Ohio Republicans may not have noticed that Ohioans are not going to go unnoticed when times get tough. The unprecedented petition signature-gathering in support of voting on Senate Bill 5 in November was just the beginning of citizen action. Maybe because I grew up in frigid Cleveland I realize that the harder Ohioans are pushed into a corner, the stronger they become. Citizen advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters continue to educate the public and seek their input. Despite rising hardships, the community members of this state are proud to continue to fight for their rights to be in control of the government that is supposed to work for them.

Jolene Pohl is a dedicated Dayton democrat volunteer/activist and a WSU grad student. Her favorite past-times include banter, debate and laughing out loud. She can be reached at

Current Graduate student at Wright State University. I should finish a Master's of Humanities by fall 2012. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio but my heart belongs with half of my family in New Mexico! "We are only as strong as the weakest link." You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter @DemWSU AND Google+

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