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Voters to decide on boundary line changes

Nov. 03, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

IRONTON -- Ohio voters will decide on Tuesday whether the state should change the way the lines for Congress and state races are drawn.

As proposed in Issue 2, a 12-member commission would be established to decide every 10 years how to draw up political districts around the state. The commission would draw Congressional districts as well as the districts for state representatives and senators. Currently, the state legislature draws the Congressional districts while a five-member state apportionment board draws state legislative districts, according to The Associated Press.

That board currently is controlled by Republicans. Republicans also have a majority in the Ohio legislature. In Ohio, Republican party officials generally oppose the issue while Democratic party officials support it. Republicans have drawn the Congressional boundaries for 20 years and the state legislative maps for 30 years.

"I'm opposed to it because it would take the issue out of the hands of elected officials," said Brigham Anderson, an Ironton lawyer. "Once (the commission is) in, the public couldn't remove them. It takes it out of the hands of the people who vote."

"The (state) Democratic party is encouraging voters to approve it," said Mark McCown, an Ironton lawyer. "The way it's done now is partisan. It leads to gerrymandering and safe districts. It's the reason for the gridlock we have in Washington."

"I'm going to vote against it," said Tim Gearhart, an Ironton businessman. "It just creates more government, and we need less government. We need to change the way the lines are drawn, but not this. It just creates more bureaucracy. Voters would have no control."

Eric Bradshaw, an Ironton resident, already voted for Issue 2. "I think it will give us a more fair vote. Lawrence County has been split, and we have less chance of getting someone from here elected."

Opponents include the Ohio Republican Party and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. Backers include the League of Women Voters and the Ohio Council of Churches.

Issue 1, another ballot issue, asks voters whether they would like to call a convention to revise, alter or amend the state constitution. Such a convention would include discussions of redistricting and term limits, among other issues.