The Ohio Ballot Board on Tuesday approved the wording for a statewide issue on the May 8 primary ballot aimed at reducing partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.
The five-member panel, led by Secretary of State Jon Husted, also approved an explanation of the issue and arguments for and against it.
Proposed by the General Assembly, the constitutional amendment will appear on the ballot as Issue 1.
If passed, it would initially require 50 percent of the minority party in each chamber to approve a map of congressional boundaries for 10 years. It also would limit how often counties can be split into multiple congressional seats, and require public hearings and the ability for the public to submit maps.
The current redistricting process requires no minority-party support and has almost no rules, other than requirements regarding district population and prohibiting conflict with the federal Voting Rights Act.
The argument for the plan says it is fair and bipartisan. The argument against it reads in part: "Although the current system allows for one-party control, the voters can hold their state legislators responsible and vote against them if they believe those legislators are too partisan ... historically, one party's control doesn't last forever."
The ballot board on Tuesday also certified a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ensuring quality and affordable dialysis care for kidney patients. The proposal, dubbed the Kidney Dialysis Patient Protection Amendment, previously was certified by the Ohio attorney general’s office.
This means that petitioners must now collect 305,591 signatures of registered Ohio voters — 10 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 2014 — to place the issue on the ballot. The total number of signatures must include signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties, enough signatures equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 2014, the most recent gubernatorial election.
The proposal, if it makes the ballot and is approved by voters, would require certain minimum patient care standards in dialysis clinics, annual state inspections of facilities and rebates of excessive charges for treatment.
Catherine Candisky is a reporter with The Columbus Dispatch.