Hamilton County Party Chair encourages partisanship in redistricting in tweet

The Cincinnati Post

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There's nothing like the local head of the Republican Party spurring interest in something as boring, yet consequential, as map drawing. However, he managed to do it when he tweeted support for rigging the redistricting process.

Ohio had a Republican - Democrat split in the 2020 elections of about 57% to 43%, respectively. Yet Democrats only hold about 39% of the district seats due to creative mapping by the Republican Party. The GOP has a clear super-majority that gives them free reign in the state legislature and across all state offices. In seat counts, that equates to a 12 - 4 split favoring Republicans in Congress and a tighter split in the state assembly despite the GOP holding about 75% of seats in the State Assembly.

Ohio is notorious for "packing and cracking" geographical areas in order to maximize Republican seats. Ohio was found to have the worst gerrymandered district in the country and pulled in a second district that made the top 12 in the country. Packing is shoving as many Democratic voters into one district like "the mistake on the lake" so surrounding districts have majorities for Republican control. A configured bizarre shape like the "the duck" district in north-central Ohio breaks up, cracks, democratic strong holds into smaller pieces in order to dilute their representation in Congress and the State Assembly. The only requirement in mapping was that each district had to be contiguous.

In 2015, voters of all parties overwhelmingly passed a Constitutional Amendment, with 71% of the vote, to revise the manner in which districts are configured. That was probably the last time anything bi-partisan happened in Ohio. While the Republican super majority still holds the majority of seats on the mapping board, the devil is in the details. Critical to the new methodology is the requirement to obtain the minority party's approval of the new map. "Passage requires the support of three-fifths of each chamber and the support of at least half of each of the two main party caucuses in each chamber." (The Bulwark, 2021) However, if they can't get the votes, the percent needed drops to 1/3 of the minority party, and eventually a "Poison Pill" wherein they can pass a map on the fourth try by a simple majority vote in each chamber, but is only effective for 4 years. Still, even if the GOP resorts to the Poison Pill ploy, they are required to keep certain counties whole and they can only split - crack - others once.

The manipulation of district maps is so fluid, and Ohio is so notorious that, a group of high school students demonstrated the ability to manipulate the mapping process. They won first place in a competition by reversing the GOP strategy and drafting maps that created a majority of strongholds for Democrats, despite the Republican 57% voting majority.

So, it's possible to draw a map that reflects the political make up of the state and insure a more representative government, but the fear has been that short-sighted and overly-confidant legislators are willing to disregard the Will of Voters who unified in a bipartisan manner to pass the constitutional amendment. In Ohio, elected officials will have a harder time picking their voters instead of voters picking their elected officials.

Alex Triantafilou, chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party tweeted what is normally whispered behind closed doors and he dropped the bomb of partisanship right into the middle of the redistricting process. There is no ambiguity, he is encouraging his fellow Republicans to - well - cheat, manipulate, use a heavy hand... whatever it takes in the process of redrawing political districts across the state of Ohio in order to retain a super-majority.

Triantafilou's tweet, "This is a red state. Treat it as such," tells us all why Ohio is considered the most corrupt state in the country. However, what Triantafolou doesn't get is that what Ohioans value more than a "spine," is a representative democracy.

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