First petition signatures inked on Ohio legislative redistricting proposal
Volunteers gathering signatures with the campaign Citizens Not Politicians are beginning to fan out across Ohio, after an incorrect date forced them to redo part of the initiated constitutional amendment process.
Elizabeth Grieser and Amber Decker braved the cold Tuesday to canvass High Street near the Ohio Statehouse in 20-degree weather for the first official day of signature-collection. Decker has registered voters and canvassed other issues before.
“A lot of the young voters I've talked to are really frustrated with the politics in Ohio,” Decker said in an interview.
This one, however, is different for her—she’s really excited about the possibility of putting it in front of the voters, and already has a set number of signatures she wants to get before the year’s end.
“It's really important in Ohio that the voters get to choose their politicians,” Decker said. “The politicians don't get to choose their voters.”
That’s the elevator pitch for the proposed amendment, which would throw out the current redistricting process. Under Citizens Not Politicians’ proposal, the state would establish an independent commission of 15 members: five Republicans, five Democrats and five independents.
The current system has elected officials on the Ohio Redistricting Commission draw the districts for congressional and Ohio General Assembly races. The Ohio Redistricting Commission has seven members, including the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and four legislative appointees—which is currently five Republicans and two Democrats.
But Grieser and Decker said this period of petition signature-getting is valuable for reasons other than making the ballot. They can also answer questions about the proposal and get more voters registered.
High schooler Malcolm Lane Jr. is a freshly minted eligible voter in Ohio.
“I actually was planning on it for a while now,” Lane Jr. said. “My family members, my aunt, she actually was getting on me about the signing—so I definitely had to get that taken care of.”
To get here, Citizens Not Politicians had to go through the Ohio Attorney General and Ballot Board not once, but twice, because of the clerical error. That error put them back a few weeks—and prompted them to miss Election Day, often a big one for signature gathering.
But Chris Davey, spokesperson for Citizens Not Politicians, said the campaign still has plenty of time to meet the threshold.
“We've used this time to continue to organize our volunteers and get all of the necessary paperwork in place and organizational structure in place,” Davey said in an earlier interview.
To qualify for the November 2024 ballot, the campaign needs more than 413,000 signatures validated by boards of elections. They’re aiming for double that, because boards of elections often reject a percentage.