Thursday, December 08, 2011

Crooked Lines from Crooked Politicians

The Legislature and the Apportionment Board have worked together produce this horribly crooked map (above left) for the congressional districts in Ohio.  You can expect crooked lines to be drawn by crooked politicians. 

I discovered the website “” which contains the alternative congressional map above (to the right).  Legislation to repeal the current map and replace it with this alternative is proposed by state senator Thomas Sawyer (SB 225).  But there is also a referendum petition to change the redistricting.  I am not sure whether these two proposals are the same.  (A proprietor of the website told me that it was the same.)  The Democratic Party is pushing the latter and I went to my county Democratic Party Headquarters with these and other questions.  I felt like Batman going into the Joker’s hangout, Captain Kirk sneaking aboard a Klingon ship, or Luke disguised as a Stormtropper in the Death Star.  I know that they are the enemy, but so are the corrupt Republicans who drew this horribly gerrymandered map (but many dems also voted for it because it was to their own personal gain, making easier for them to win their particular districts).  But if the Democrats put forth a significantly better (less gerrymandered) map, then I will sign their petition for it, even though I disagree with most everything else they do.

So as I entered the rundown shack where the dems have their headquarters, I asked the lady at the desk if they had the petition to repeal HB 319.  She pointed to a clipboard on a nearby table.  Then I asked if she had a map of what the districts would look like if this referendum was adopted.  She handed me a map, but it was a comparison of the old map to the recently adopted one.  After pointing this out she called for someone else to assist me. 

When I asked this other lady my question, she said that the referendum only repeals the currently drawn map, does not draw a new one, and that legislature would have to pass another bill drawing another map.  But this is false.  The petition says that it is to “enact new section 3521.01 and to repeal section 3521.01 of the Revised Code…to establish Congressional district boundaries for the state based on the 2010 decennial census of Ohio…”  The lady either didn’t know what she was talking about or was lying. 

But not only that, the lady told me that there is nothing wrong with gerrymandering as long as it done the right way.  I told her that I disagreed.  She seemed like she could not even grasp the concept that someone might actually want the congressional boundaries to be drawn in a way that is fair for all Ohioans, instead of just for political gain for the Democrats.  “I just don’t want these crooked lines,” I said (even though that term isn’t precisely the property that I am looking for in a map, but given the course that this conversation had already taken, I don’t think that this lady would have understood the term “compactness”.  Gee whiz!) 

The Democrats, for whatever reason, seem to be making a concerted effort to hide what this petition does.  You cannot download a usable petition off of the internet (you can only view a petition which already has some signatures on it from the Attorney General’s office, which presumably the initiative petition.  It is hard to make out the tract numbers on the back pages, I don’t know where to look up what they mean, and even if I could it would take forever to draw the map myself on a piece of paper from these numbers).  I am wondering why.  They don’t want ordinary people to able find out what this map is, they just want their unthinking base to think that they are doing something good for the party.  If they really cared about gerrymandering, they would make this petition available for anyone to download and distribute and they would provide a map to go with it so that people know what they voting for.  And why are no other legislators signing on to Senator Sawyer’s bill?  What’s really going on here?

If anyone has a map of the districting proposed by this referendum petition or if you can prove to me that it is the same as Senator Sawyer’s legislation, please let me know.  Click here for petition signing locations.

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