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Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Most Important Election of 2005 -- Get Involved Today

Posted by Tim Tagaris

Yes, Paul Hackett was big. Yes, Tim Kaine's bid for Governor of Virgina is important. And yes, John Corzine as the next Governor of New Jersey is something we can all look forward to. But if there is one race is 2005, more than any listed above, that we should all begin to rally around, today, it is the amendments put forward by the group known as Reform Ohio Now.

With less than a month to go before August 2nd, the blogosphere began to rally around Paul Hackett's campaign for U.S. Congress in Ohio's 2nd Congressional District. Whatever the reason you cared (a fighting Democrat or you as a Democrat just wanting a fight), the world took notice of our efforts while the collective blogosphere set the terms of the debate for 2006. Reform Ohio Now is the equivalent of six Paul Hacketts...And then some.

(See action items at the end of the entry")

Four amendments, Issues 2-5 on the ballot; all important, but possibly none bigger than the SIX U.S. HOUSE SEATS we gain if "State Issue Four" passes this November.

For years, the party that held at least two of three state offices -- governor, auditor and secretary of state -- controlled the way legislative and congressional districts are drawn. [...]

State Issue 4 would attempt to take the partisanship out of redrawing districts by forming a five-member state commission. Judges would name the first two members, who then would select the other three.

The GOP cannot take what they dish out in states like Texas, where we lost 4 of 5 seats they attempted to redistrict for themselves. Hear the fear.

Mr. Finan [a former Republican state senator] has said the redistricting measure, if approved, could cost Republicans in Ohio 6 of their 12 seats in Congress and would probably inspire similar Democratic-backed efforts in other states dominated by Republicans.

Six of twelve. Goodbye Steve Chabot (OH-1). Goodbye Deborah Pryce (OH-15). And see ya Bob Ney (OH-18). Ohio's map is an absolute mess; take a look below:

Take a look at Congressman Ted Strickland's district, the sixth, as it winds all the way through Southern Ohio, to the Southeast, and up the Eastern edge of the state; the 18th is almost as bad as the sixth, yet still unacceptable.  Or how Franklin County is divided into three pieces.  And how OH-1 was created to literally cut the Cincinnati area in two and given portions of Butler County to keep the seat under the control of Steve Chabot.  And that's to say nothing of CD-5 that extends from the Western edge of the state, through the center and butts into the Eastern portion of Ohio.  It doesn't get more complicated than that.  The whole state looks like a poorly created jigsaw puzzle.  Only difference being, that if a jigsaw puzzle creator developed this product, he/she would be out of a job.

But that is just one of the four amendments. Here is a synopsis of the other three presented by the Akron Beacon Journal and disected at Grow Ohio.

State Issue 2 If passed, anyone, for any reason, could vote absentee at any time beginning 35 days before an election. Currently, voters must give a reason -- like they are disabled, elderly, on military duty or going to be out of the county -- to not vote at the polls. [...]

Reform Ohio says Issue 2 would lead to more people voting. They no longer would be inconvenienced by long lines at voting booths or last-minute scheduling problems.

State Issue 3 The bottom line for Reform Ohio is that Issue 3 dramatically would reduce the amount of money individuals and PACs could give to candidates.

Currently, the contribution limit is effectively $20,000 in an election cycle, but one person -- or a PAC -- can give that amount to as many candidates, parties, PACs, etc.

The new rules would reduce the amount of money individuals would be able to contribute to $25,000 in any given year...  Individuals could give no more than $500 to a legislative candidate and $1,000 to someone running for statewide office.

State Issue 5
State Issue 5 would replace the Ohio secretary of state with a nine-member board that would function much like the 88 bipartisan county boards of elections.
Four members would be named by the governor with four more appointed by legislators from a party different than the governor's. The Ohio Supreme Court would name the final -- nonpartisan -- member.

No more Ken Blackwell cronysim. Reasonable contribution limits. And easier access to the polls by all Americans. Can you beat that? Well, the Republicans are certainly going to rally and attempt to.

I was there during Paul Hackett. I know how exciting it got on the ground and throughout the blogosphere. Living in Ohio, I also know how important these amendments are. We raised $500,000+ for one single campaign that completely transformed the political process. Now we have a chance to do the same in an attempt to completely reform the democratic process. I hope we are up to the challenge in the coming weeks. Here are your action items:

1.) Contribute to Reform Ohio Now
Believe it or not, money is an issue. The organization is having a tough time raising the funds necessary to pass these amendments. The effort on-the-ground is no different than a traditional campaign in that is needs dollars and volunteers. Which leads me to number two.

2.) Volunteer On The Ground
This is especially true if you are inside Ohio. Like I said above, this is no different than a traditional campaign. Door-knocking, phone banking, and doing the dirty work of democracy is absolutely essential if we are going to pass Issues 2-5.

3.) Visit Pounder's Diary
Grow Ohio & Daily Kos contributor, Pounder, has been out in front of the issues and provided a great mechanism for people to get involved in a meaningful way, wherever you are in the United States.

4.) Sign-up at Grow Ohio
Grow Ohio will serve as sort of an online hub for information on the progress of Reform Ohio Now. During Hackett, you never really knew where to get the best up-to-the-second information. Sometimes Bob and I wrote at Swing State Project, a Kos Diary, or MyDD. In this situation, Grow Ohio will be the flash point for information and resources; the scoop format of the blog allows individuals to contribute content directly to the site, making it perfect to encourage discussion and participation.

I'm certain that Pounder and I (among many others) will be doing a lot of work within the blogosphere to generate the support necessary to get these amendments passed. I hope that we can all join together and celebrate our successes on Election Day, just a short month and a half away.

Posted at 11:01 PM in Ohio | Technorati

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These are important reforms not only for Ohioans, but with ramifications nationwide, especially the amendments that allow early voting by mail (remember those suspiciously long lines in key Ohio areas in '04?) and take election oversight out of the h... [Read More]

Tracked on September 26, 2005 11:22 AM


Will these amendments, if they pass, result in an immediate redistricting or will we have to wait until the 2012 election to see the effects?

Posted by: abramcf [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2005 01:58 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

From the RON website:

"When would redistricting take effect?
Redistricting would take effect for the 2008 general elections.

Why should redistricting start in 2008 vs. 2012?
If the citizens of Ohio decide this amendment is important, than why should they wait for change? Ohioans should not be forced to wait for a more open, non-partisan system because it might be more convenient for political candidates. If the voters pass it, then it should take effect as soon as possible."

Posted by: Mike C [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2005 02:08 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Cmon Hackett, lets hear it:


Posted by: Samson [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2005 02:35 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hmm. I may be voting against issue 2 (vote by mail). I’m especially concerned if Issue 2 passes without bipartisan election administration. That could be worse than our present situation.

Mark Trahant penned a thoughful editorial, Sunday, September 25, 2005 in which he begins, "Vote by mail? OK, so I was wrong ..."

Full text: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/opinion/242020_trahant25.html

Posted by: John in Cincy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 26, 2005 09:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Steve Fought here, speaking from RON headquarters. Thank you, Tim, and thank you, Bob, for bringing the reform issue to the forefront.

RON essentially is asking Ohio voters four questions:

Do you believe in making it easier to vote?

Do you believe in taking the big money out of campaigns?

Do you believe in taking the politicians out of drawing congressional and legislative districts?

Do you believe in fair and impartial administration of elections in Ohio?

We are asking voters to answer "Yes" to each question.

For future reference, my e-mail is stevefought@yahoo.com.

For more information, www.reformohionow.org

Posted by: Steve Fought [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 27, 2005 04:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment