Gerrymandering: A Threat To Representative Democracy

The 19th century brought us President Abraham Lincoln, suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, philosopher Henry David Thoreau, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, and artist James Whistler - people who positively contributed to the world in which we live today.

The 19th century also brought us gerrymandering, which has had a negative impact on our world. Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry approved a congressional map in 1812 with lines so squirrelly that one district looked like a mythological salamander. The political process has never been the same, with each party employing it to their advantage in turn. Gerrymandering stacks the deck and sorts people into congressional districts based on how they are expected to vote.

Today in Ohio, district lines are drawn to maximize political power no matter how skewed they may be. While the issue has been a problem since Governor Gerry introduced it, it’s getting worse. Technological advancements will allow the people drawing the lines to skew the districts up to an estimated 30% after the next census. Politicians are picking their voters instead of voters picking politicians. It is past time to stop this assault on representative democracy.

The issue spans the political spectrum -- whichever party is in power will do their best to retain that power. It’s human nature, so we cannot expect politicians to miraculously change the process on their own. We, the voters, need to act.

Ohioans did act in 2015. You may remember the 2015 ballot measure -- which passed by over 70% -- to correct how our Ohio congressional districts are drawn for our representatives in Columbus. Now Fair Districts Ohio and the League of Women Voters are collecting signatures to put a similar measure on the ballot to address the issue for the U.S. representatives that we send down to Washington, D.C.

It is now up to each of us to actively participate in the democratic process by signing the petition to place the redistricting constitutional amendment on the ballot. This initiative will transfer responsibility for redrawing congressional district lines to the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission -- the same one that is going to redraw the lines for our representatives in Columbus.  

If you would like to learn more about the issue or sign the petition, you can find more information at Our truly representative democracy depends on it!

Suzy Scullin is a Lakewood resident and is active in Indivisible CLE. You can find the group at and on Facebook.

Suzy Scullin

Suzy Scullin is a Lakewood resident and is active in Indivisible CLE. You can find the group at and on Facebook.

Read More on Other
Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 12:35 PM, 07.18.2017