For Ohio residents, November’s ballot is more than a vote for president.
Issues 1 and 2, the statewide ballot measures, both hold the potential to change Ohio’s governmental structure.
State Issue 1 is a ballot measure calling for a review and possible revision of the Ohio Constitution. The revisions are unspecified in the ballot language. In order for this measure to pass, it requires a majority of the vote.
State Issue 2 puts before voters the decision to overhaul how the state draws its districts for legislative representation. Coinciding with the decennial census, both state and federal congressional districts are redrawn to reflect changes in population.
The Ohio Appointment Board draws the districts for the Ohio General Assembly. This board consists of the governor, the secretary of state, the state auditor and one representative from each political party.
The Republicans control the board with four seats filled by Gov. John Kasich, Secretary of State Jon Husted, Auditor of State David Yost and Sen. Thomas Niehaus. Rep. Arnold Budish is the sole Democrat on the board.
For U.S. congressional districts, this process is delegated to the state legislatures. The Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives gives them redistricting power.
The redistricting process is notorious for being abused by party officials who carve out districts that protect their candidates from competition. In political parlance, this is known as gerrymandering. Officials draw what is called a safe district, or a district where the candidate’s chances of re-election are basically guaranteed.
Paul Sracic, chair of the political science department at Youngstown State University, explained the impact of having a political party determine the way districts are drawn — and the problems that come with trying to change them.
“Naturally, [parties] draw districts in their favor. You can’t absolutely determine the composition of the legislature, but you can influence it,” he said. “It’s generally the out party that wants independent redistricting.”
Issue 2 would change this by placing the redistricting power in the hands of a commission of 12 members: four affiliated with the largest party represented in the Ohio General Assembly, four affiliated with the second-largest party and four persons unaffiliated with any political party.
Under the new proposal, seven members of this board must vote in favor of the plans for them to be approved. If they cannot agree by a certain date, the power to determine district borders would be transferred to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Despite the importance of this measure, many YSU students are unaware.
“I haven’t even heard of the issues,” said freshman Landon Kline.
According to election data from the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, non-presidential elections never achieve turnout more than 50 percent; rarely is it above even 45 percent.