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Politics is big in these parts, and we’ve got it covered. John Arthur Hutchison and other staff writers will offer their inside information on the events, big news and little moments of the local political scene in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Will Ohio voters get say on redistricting?

It looks like we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to know if a state constitutional amendment will be on the Nov. 6 ballot to change how Ohio draws up congressional and state legislative districts.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted certified that the referendum effort collected 254,625 valid signatures to fall 130,628 short of the needed 385,253 valid signatures to appear as a statewide issue.

The petitioning group Voters First also needs to collect signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties collect enough valid signatures equal to 5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2010.

Signatures met or exceeded the 5 percent threshold in 34 counties, including Lake, Geauga and Cuyahoga, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Voters First has until Saturday to submit additional signatures to Husted’s office, and the group said that it will continue to collect them.

Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said he wasn’t surprised by Husted’s findings after the GOP examined 2,000 of the petitions submitted.

Voters First seeks to change the process regarding how districts are drawn up to one that is done by a nonpartisan citizens commission.

Every 10 years when U.S. Census results are released with new population totals, Ohio is able to change the Ohio General Assembly districts’ boundaries.

By law, that process is done by the state Reapportionment Board comprised of the governor, secretary of state, auditor, and two state legislators from the opposite party.

Last year, Republicans comprised a 4-1 majority on that board, essentially having a free hand to draw the districts. Democrats last controlled the board in 1971 and 1981.

Shaping the boundaries for congressional districts is done a little differently, as it is done by the Ohio General Assembly, where Republicans currently are the majority in the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate.

Legislators also were faced with the task of shrinking Ohio’s congressional districts down to 16 after the state lost two seats U.S. House of Representatives because of stagnant population growth the past decade.

Critics of both methods say partisan politics plays too much of a role and the boundaries that are drawn up often don’t make sense geographically or keep regional interests in mind.

Proponents say that the party that controls these decisions should be able to retain that right because voters had their say when electing statewide office holders and members of the Ohio General Assembly.

Republicans say they also eliminated a GOP and Democratic leaning district as part of the congressional redistricting.

In the past, both Democrats and Republicans have talked about reforming the process to draw these districts, but efforts have stalled because the party in power doesn’t want to give that right up.

So it time to give voters the chance to have a say? We’ll see shortly.

Is Lake County Commissioner Daniel P. Troy close to making a decision to leave the race for Ohio House of Representatives District 60? He was selected as the Democratic Party’s nominee during the Nov. 6 primary.

n Fundraiser for Nancy McArthur, candidate for Ohio Senate District 32, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. July 26 at the home of Tom and Melissa Pope in Ashtabula. See McArthur.

n Fundraiser for Lori DiNallo, candidate for Ohio House of Representatives District 60, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., July 26 at Fitzgerald’s Irish Bed And Breakfast in Painesville. See Jan Clair or Dale Fellows.

n Lake County Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish hosts ninth annual Ferrante Winery Celebration, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 1 at Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Harpersfield Township. See Ernie Koenig or Kathie Aufuldish-Freshour.

n Wine tasting event honoring Judge Mary Jane Trapp, 11th District Court of Appeals Court, 5 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at St. Joseph Vineyard, Madison Township. See Mike Apicella.

n Fundraiser for Jim Dvorak, candidate for Geauga County commissioner, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 2, at Colonial Wine and Beverage, 8389 Mayfield Road, Chester Township. See Dvorak.

John Arthur Hutchison
Twitter: @newsheraldjah

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