State Rep. Kathleen Clyde (D-Kent) today introduced the Keep it Open, Keep It Honest Act, which would ensure transparency in Ohio’s state and congressional redistricting processes. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved the new process for congressional redistricting in a statewide vote Tuesday. In 2015, the Buckeye State saw the same overwhelming voter approval for a new process for drawing state legislative districts.
“It’s exciting that Ohio will have a new redistricting process when we redraw the state and congressional lines in 2021. The commonsense provisions in the Keep It Open, Keep it Honest plan will help ensure that all steps of the map-drawing processes are transparent and open to the public,” said Rep. Clyde. “No part of our map drawing should happen behind closed doors – that is what led to Ohio having some of the most undemocratic, gerrymandered districts in the country. Ohio voters wanted to take special interests out of redistricting and that requires a strong commitment to transparency.”
Clyde’s bill would:
-Require regular public reports and the release of draft maps under negotiation in real time.
-Mandate regular public briefings and allowing for ongoing public input.
-Require public redistricting meetings with sufficient notice, and prohibit any secretive meeting process.
-Require that those involved, including private consultants, preserve all redistricting records and related communications.
-Allow the Ohio Attorney General's Office to quickly bring suspected violations before a court of law for judicial review.
According to a recent Brennan Center for Justice report, Ohio ranks among the worst states for gerrymandered congressional districts, a direct result of the Republican-led, closed-door redistricting process after the 2010 census. Republicans in the three congressional elections since have won 75 percent of U.S. House races in Ohio while winning only 56 percent of the overall vote. Ohio’s state legislature is also severely gerrymandered. In 2012, House Democrats received more total votes than House Republicans but won 21 fewer seats in the chamber.
Rep. Clyde serves as Ranking Member on the House Government Accountability and Oversight committee, which hears elections and redistricting-related bills. She is an attorney and former election official and was named 2016 Legislator of the Year by the Ohio Association of Election Officials for her elections work.