A bipartisan ballot measure for fairer, more competitive congressional maps in Ohio passed with sweeping support on Tuesday.
Around 75 percent of Ohioans voted for Issue 1, compared to 25 percent who voted against it, according to the Associated Press.
The measure will keep control of the map-drawing process in the hands of the legislature, but impose new rules requiring 50 percent support from members of both the Democratic and Republican parties for the maps to be enacted. If they fail, a seven-member commission composed of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and lawmakers from the two major political parties will assume control of the process.
Importantly, lawmakers are explicitly barred from passing a map that “unduly favors” either party. Other rules dictate that congressional districts must be contiguous and make geographic sense. All together, backers say, these requirements will lead to results that better reflect the will of voters rather than what most benefits the party in power.
Voting rights groups that helped garner support for the measure, including the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, cheered its passage as a victory for common-sense reform in one of the states most afflicted by partisan gerrymandering. They framed Issue 1 as the same kind of redistricting reform that voters are pushing for in other states from Michigan to Utah.
“2018 is going to be a historic year for redistricting reform, as Ohio is the first of several states expected to vote on ballot measures aimed at making the redistricting process more fair and transparent,” Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn said in a statement.
Former attorney general Eric Holder, head of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), said in a statement that the measure “gives me hope that we can restore fairness to our elections in states around the country.” One of the NDRC’s affiliate arms spent $50,000 to support the measure’s passage.
Issue 1 was a compromise effort that passed the legislature with broad support from both parties. Voting rights groups and their backers say it only came about and received significant GOP support after they pushed to get a far more sweeping reform proposal on the November ballot.