The Post, 8/30

When many people think of the census that we have every 10 years, some have asked what purpose this exercise serves. The census, a task that was specified in the U.S. Constitution, is actually important for a great number of reasons. Chief among them is the fact that the legislative districts across our state and nation must be redrawn based on our population.

If one state representative had thousands more constituents in his or district than another, it would not only be unconstitutional, but it would be unfair, because they each get only one vote in the House. For this reason, the state legislative districts--those for your state representative and state senator--are redrawn every 10 years so that they represent approximately the same number of constituents as their colleagues.

Just recently, the Ohio Apportionment Board, tasked with redrawing state legislative districts, traveled around the state to 11 regional hearings in order to have public testimony on this matter. This board is the body that reforms the district boundaries for all 99 Ohio House districts and all 33 Ohio Senate districts. Its membership includes the governor, secretary of state, state auditor, as well as one Republican and one Democrat from the legislature. A separate process is used to draw Ohio's congressional districts, which is a matter passed through a bill in the Ohio General Assembly.

There are many factors to consider when drawing state legislative districts. Most importantly, the Apportionment Board must follow strict rules laid out by the Ohio and U.S. Constitutions and the Voting Rights Act.

The drawing of new district boundaries is often viewed as a very politically heated struggle. Efforts have been made to change the process through legislation, as well as citizen initiative, but the current system has remained in place. Regardless, I am confident that the districts will be drawn in the open, fair, legal, and transparent way that the Ohio Constitution requires and intends.

It's very important that the new districts are set in the near future. Not only does it affect the next election cycle, but it plays a major role in the process of candidates getting on the ballot, as well as where certain candidates are legally allowed to run for office.

Above all else, the board's process will be open and transparent and will yield the most fair and legal map possible.


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