Election Law @ Moritz

Recent Opinion Articles

Edward B. Foley
Free & Fair is a collection of writings by Edward B. Foley, one of the nation's preeminent experts on election law.

Opinion and Analysis

Professor Foley's Request Improper. But on Much We Agree

Print Page

November 3, 2005

Director's Note: Because Professor Foley's Nov. 1 op-ed called upon Representative DeWine by name to undertake specific action, Election Law @ Moritz wanted to give him an opportunity to respond.

Of the thirteen paragraphs in Professor Edward Foley's November 1 op-ed regarding Issue 4, I agree with ten. The three paragraphs calling for me to promise an alternative for the 2006 ballot are a red herring. As a single elected official I cannot possibly guarantee that a majority of the Ohio General Assembly will vote to put the California redistricting proposal on Ohio 's ballot in 2006. Foley teaches constitutional law, so he knows this and should know better than to make such a preposterous demand.

But I agree with Foley's analysis of the problems presented by Issue 4. He is correct in pointing out that the current redistricting system presents an irresistible opportunity to the political party in power to draw Ohio 's legislative districts in their favor. He correctly notes that both Democrats and Republicans have exercised the ability to tilt the playing field to their advantage when they have been able to (Democrats in the 70s and 80s, and Republicans since the early 90s).

I also agree with Foley's statements that favor the Schwarzenegger proposal as a more appropriate solution to this problem than Ohio 's Issue 4. Unlike Issue 4, the California ballot initiative properly recognizes that voters in the same city or county should be kept within the same district where possible. Issue 4 would virtually throw out the window such traditional criteria as compactness and preservation of political subdivisions, and make partisan competitiveness the primary criterion under which to judge districts.

Proposed district maps scored under Issue 4's rigid mathematical formula prove that the resulting districts span across the state so that rural voters and urban voters, for example, are forced together to create a "competitive" district. Ignored would be the difficulty of the elected official actually knowing and serving such sprawling areas, the vastly increased expense of campaigning in additional TV markets, and the fact that people with no similar communities of interest would be forced together.

When the Issue 4 formula is applied to our current Congressional district map, the multi-county "river district" most frequently criticized by political scientists and nonpartisan "good government" groups scores better than any other district! This indisputable fact lead both the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch to call for a No vote on Issue 4, with the Dispatch stating that its proposed solution "would be worse than the problem."

But Foley and I agree on far more than we disagree. In fact I suggest you look to his complete website, http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/electionlaw, where you can see his other excellent articles including his opposition to Issue 3.

On Issue 4, for the many reasons highlighted by Foley and others over the past few weeks, Ohioans should VOTE NO.