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CNN’s Reality Check w/John Avlon did a segment(11/19/21) featuring an extreme gerrymandering case currently playing out in Ohio. Back in 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly backed(75%) an amendment to the state’s constitution that would ensure redistricting was carried out in a bipartisan fashion. Ohio’s congressional district maps were to be drawn by a bipartisan 7-member redistricting commission. The idea behind a bipartisan redistricting commission was quite simple–to create competitive district maps which would in turn reduce political polarization. Basically, politicians will shy away from radical ideas/conduct if they know they can be easily beaten at the polls.
Well, it turns out Ohio Republicans have since reneged on their support for a bipartisan redistricting commission, and are now using the Republican-led state legislature to come up with an extremely gerrymandered map, one that will give them a 13-2 advantage in congressional seats(86%R-14%D), even though Trump’s 2020 win in Ohio was only 53%-45%. No reasonable person would ever conclude that Ohio is an 86R-14D state, yet this is exactly what the new congressional map being pushed by state Republicans attempts to achieve–a total fraud and willful disenfranchisement of Democratic-leaning voters.
Even more repugnant is the way the Republican-led Ohio state legislature ended up being responsible for drawing the congressional maps. According to John Avlon, Republican members of the bipartisan redistricting commission simply refused to show up for duty, thereby crippling the commission because it was unable to convene meetings. With the bipartisan commission deliberately crippled, the redistricting job fell back to the partisan Ohio legislature, which drew the extremely gerrymandered map–a sad state of affairs indeed.
John Avlon said: “Ohio Republicans just decided to disregard the state constitution and the will of the voters. A seven-member redistricting commission had a month to work on a fair map, but Republican members refused to participate, and so the commission couldn’t convene. The power to draw the lines fell back to the Republican-controlled state assembly, who proceeded to do exactly what the constitutional amendment forbade. They cracked and packed minority communities, dividing counties and cities for their own partisan advantage. For example, Hamilton County, home to Cincinnati, which voted for[President] Biden by a 16-point margin, will be divided into 3 congressional districts, with Black voters offset by White Republicans.”
This is just the latest example of how state Republicans are actively disenfranchising Democratic-leaning/minority voters while Democrats in Washington are still dithering over abolishing the filibuster, and coming up with a federal voting rights law. A federal voting rights law is the only solution to the rampant GOP gerrymandering.
Bottom line folks, time is of the essence. Democrats need to abolish the filibuster immediately and pass a federal voting rights law. The two Senate holdouts, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, must be confronted with this troubling Ohio gerrymandering case, and be forced to explain why a filibuster carve out for a federal voting legislation is not the appropriate way to go, given the dire circumstances.
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