Your help is needed today to prevent an effort by Senate President Matt Huffman to push forward a Constitutional Amendment that would radically change the redistricting process and undermine the spirit of the 2015 and 2018 redistricting reforms.
Because US census data will be arriving later than usual, Ohio will need a new timeline for drawing district maps. Fair Districts has been urging Ohio mapmakers to get to work on this important business for weeks now -- see our April 5 letter. But instead of holding public hearings, Senate President Huffman hastily put together a proposal for a Constitutional Amendment that circumvents the fair redistricting process put in place by "our" reforms. It gives complete power to the legislature to determine a new timeline -- and it doesn't even insist that maps be drawn using decennial census data.
Take a look at our press statement -- then TAKE ACTION. Email Ohio lawmakers and urge them to reject any attempt to approve a Constitutional Amendment that could be used to cut the public out of the redistricting process and rig maps for extreme partisan outcomes.
Thank you for advocating for Fair Districts in Ohio!
Mia Lewis and the whole Fair Districts team
The Operating Budget has moved on to the Senate, and Senators may cut back the plan or remove it altogether.
The Fair School Funding Plan, when fully funded, would provide every public school in the state with resources to deliver a high-quality education to every student. If approved, it will ensure that no student or public school is disadvantaged because of income level or location.
Since 1997 the courts have repeatedly found that the state's investment in public education has not met its obligation to be adequate and equitable. Finally, there is a REAL remedy.
The plan, as written, accounts for the diversity of Ohio's 609 school districts and 1.5 million students. Its strength comes from using the actual cost of educating a student to determine the amount of funding guaranteed to all students, and from more accurately identifying the capacity of local communities to pay their share of the cost. The plan also increases the state's contribution to transportation, and educating children who live in poverty, are gifted or have disabilities. It ends deduction funding for charter schools and vouchers.
The result is a funding mechanism, which when fully funded:
Gives all students access to a public school with adequate resources for a high quality education. Makes funding predictable and budgeting possible. Evens the playing field by disentangling voucher and charter funding from local school district budgets. Reduces reliance on property taxes. Strengthens our system of public education and our democracy. LWVO supports the plan, its inclusion in the state budget, and an open process to guide legislative action.
You can make a difference. Click here to fill out our action alert and send a message to your state senator, and then follow the prompts to call the Ohio Senate leadership. Finally, encourage your family and friends to do the same. Don't be silent.
Proponents of this bill argue that a party affiliation would help voters choose a judge at the ballot box. While much work remains to be done on educating the public about judicial candidates/races, this is not the way to do it!
In states where such policies have been enacted, studies have shown that the independence and integrity of courts were threatened. Across the country, partisan judicial races have led to significantly higher campaign contributions and increased partisanship among judges. Increased campaign contributions in judicial races affect case outcomes; judges with big donors feel pressure to please those donors and avoid politicized attacks rather than solely decide cases based on their understanding of the facts and the law.
TAKE ACTION NOW TO ENSURE JUDICIAL RACES REMAIN NONPARTISAN. Ohio must commit to ensuring that its judges carry out their responsibilities with fairness and impartiality.
Call your state senator and Senate president Matt Huffman to stop this vote!
Senate President Matt Huffman: 614-466-7584
Your sample script: I urge you to vote no on SB80, which would require certain judicial candidates to appear on the ballot with a party designation. It is the job of a judge to be fair, impartial, and free from partisanship, and nonpartisan elections are critical in ensuring that judges carry out their responsibilities with fairness and impartiality. Thank you for your consideration.
This year Ohio congressional and state legislative district maps will be redrawn with new rules overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2015 and 2018. Given the adjusted Census timeline, official mapmakers must act NOW to create a new schedule that preserves public participation and oversight and allows mapmakers to hear from experts.
Yesterday, Fair Districts Ohio sent a letter to Ohio mapmakers with specific recommendations to ensure transparent and fair mapmaking in light of adjusted delivery date for Census data.
Act Now: Urge Ohio mapmakers to fulfill the promise of these reforms and start hearings right away.
Since 1997 the courts have repeatedly found that the state's investment in public education has not met its obligation to be adequate and equitable.
Finally, there is a REAL remedy. The plan, if passed as written will:
Increase funding by using the actual cost of educating students to establish the base cost + the per pupil amount guaranteed for every student; More accurately assess local capacity to contribute to the base cost; Increase resources for certain categories of children where cost exceeds the base cost - those living in poverty, gifted, special education; and Directly fund charters and vouchers, so that public school students do not forfeit state funds appropriated for them. LWVO supports this bill and the core ingredients that are so essential to a fair system. Every voice is needed to make sure that the legislature acts in a timely way, and honors the intentions of the authors.
Click here to learn more about this legislation and how it will help provide a quality education for every child in Ohio.
Improve access for senior, student, low-income, and rural Ohio voters
Allow counties to have multiple drop boxes and multiple early voting centers. Many voters live far away from the county seat, have inconsistent US mail service, or don't have reliable transportation. In 2020, too many Ohioans endured undue burden to vote early; in at least 10 counties voters had to wait in line two hours or longer to access the dropbox or vote early.
ASK: Introduce and pass legislation to allow multiple drop boxes and early vote centers.
Adopt Agency Voter Verification & Registration (VVR)
Improve the accuracy of voter rolls by automatically registering eligible citizens when they interact with state government, unless they opt-out. This commonsense reform also improves the security of our voter registration database and saves money.
ASK: Introduce and pass Automated Voter Registration legislation.
Pass online online absentee ballot requests
Permit voters to submit online absentee ballot applications so that applications can be processed more accurately and efficiently. The COVID pandemic made clear that our vote by mail system is inefficient, confusing, and cumbersome for both voters and election officials.
ASK: Introduce and pass online absentee ballot request.
Secure Voter Registration Systems
Senate Bill 14 requires the Secretary of State to adopt rules establishing guidelines for the approval and continued certification of voter registration systems. More secure registration systems would reduce the likelihood of registration errors that would disenfranchise voters, provide Ohioans the confidence that their registrations are secure and accurate, and give county boards of elections the tools to effectively and efficiently carry out their jobs.
ASK IN THE SENATE: Please vote yes on SB14. Take Action Now
Background: Currently, Ohio's 88 county boards of elections lack centralization and oversight in the administration of their voter registration systems. As technology plays an increasingly larger role in elections, it is vital to create a process for reviewing and certifying vendors of systems such as electronic pollbooks and ballot printers and mailers.
During the 2020 General Election season, Franklin County voters experienced significant detrimental effects that could have been avoided had SB 14's provisions been in place -- a mailing system that sent the wrong ballots to thousands of people and an electronic pollbook system that crashed trying to upload the unprecedented volume of data.
Senate Bill 14 provides Ohioans the confidence that their registrations are secure and accurate, and gives county boards of elections the tools to effectively and efficiently carry out their jobs.