Columbus, OH - The League of Women Voters of Ohio today announced participation in a lawsuit challenging the state's U.S. congressional districts as unconstitutional. The federal lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in the Southern District of Ohio, alleges the current map violates Ohioans' right to have their votes count and their voices heard.
"Ohio's current congressional map is clearly gerrymandered and unconstitutional," said LWV Ohio Executive Director Jen Miller. "Voters demonstrated their understanding of this issue and hunger for change at the ballot box on May 8. We look forward to seeing the benefits of Issue 1 during the creation of future maps, which starts in 2021. But the fact remains that the current map needs to be addressed now. This lawsuit could lead to fair maps for all Ohio voters in the 2020 election, and create a strong framework for future map making under the Issue 1 process."
Drawn by the majority party in 2011 under Ohio's old redistricting process, the current map has reliably resulted in a 12-4 Republican-Democratic district split, regardless of overall vote totals. According to this complaint, Ohio's current congressional map violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.
"The League of Women Voters of Ohio has been advocating for an end to gerrymandering for decades, including revealing the hyper-partisan backroom dealing that went into drawing this current congressional map, and tracking thepredictable results of Ohio's congressional elections since 2012." said Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick, LWV Ohio Co-President. "We have always been committed to defending democracy and advocating for the voices of everyday Ohioans in their government, even when it is not easy."
LWV Ohio joins the lawsuit alongside the lead plaintiff, the Ohio A. Phillip Randolph Institute, an African-American trade union and civil rights advocacy organization, as well as an individual plaintiff from each of Ohio's sixteen congressional districts. The defendants listed in the complaint are Ohio Governor John Kasich, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, Ohio Senate Majority Leader Larry Obhof, and Interim House Speaker Kirk Schuring.
"We remain incredibly proud of the bipartisan compromise that went into passing Issue 1 and are committed to its successful implementation. We would not be participating in this suit if its goal were to stymie or undermine the reforms of Issue 1," added Miller. "Rather, we feel this can set the stage for the best possible outcome in future redistricting processes by establishing a fair baseline and has the potential to bring fair districts to all Ohio voters even sooner."
LWV Ohio reports on redistricting at: http://bit.ly/LWVORedistricting
More information from ACLU Ohio at: http://bit.ly/2s0aqVo
Contact: Jen Miller, Executive Director LWVO | (614) 563-9543