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The Suburbanite
  • Our view: Cost of referendum over redistricting just too high

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  • Ohio’s new congressional district map stinks. Ohio House Republicans divided Stark County among three districts, further diluting Canton’s and the county’s influence in Washington.
    But the road down which Ohioans may be heading as a result of Ohio’s new U.S. House district map can do as much harm to the political process — and to governing Ohio — as it does good.
    Here the update in a nutshell:
    This week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted rejected Democrats’ petitions to put a referendum on the map on the November 2012 ballot. Husted rejected the request as unconstitutional because the bill approving the map also contains money for county boards of elections to put the new boundaries in effect — which makes it an appropriations bill that’s exempt from referendums. Democrats actually had no quarrel with Husted’s decision because now they can pursue a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court on whether the issue can go on the ballot.
    What will the court decide? We wouldn’t presume to predict, especially with a court that found constitutional grounds to give disgraced Stark County Treasurer Gary Zeigler his job back.
    But the Democrats’ lawsuit and the court’s subsequent ruling, even if it favors a referendum, won’t do anything to ensure that a less partisan map will be drawn. And just as important, it won’t ensure that citizens will have any more to do with the redrawing process than they do now — that involvement amounting to zero.
    And if the court rules against the Democrats, state party Chairman Chris Redfern vows to take the issue to a federal court.
    Certainly we’d be happy to see different boundaries. But the cost — more months of political divisiveness in a state that’s near its limit in that department — is too high.