Advocacy briefing, October 19, 2021

Advocacy briefing, October 19, 2021

Advocacy briefing, October 19, 2021 750 422 Episcopalians in Connection

How you can act to stop gerrymandering

Fair districts are a top priority for a wide coalition of Ohio nonprofits. Ohio voters have two opportunities to speak out against gerrymandering this week, with a crucial vote tomorrow in the U.S. Senate and deadlines looming for Ohio’s new Congressional map.

Federal level:  The Senate is scheduled to vote TOMORROW (Oct. 20) on the Freedom to Vote Act (S2747). Many advocates see this bill as the best chance for a nation-wide solution to end extreme partisan gerrymandering, protect voter access, and protect the democratic principle that voters choose their elected officials, rather than the reverse. Contact Ohio Senators Rob Portman and  Sherrod Brown immediately with your views.

Sponsored by Senators Klobuchar and Mansion, the Freedom to Vote Act blocks partisan and racial gerrymandering by creating legally enforceable standards to ensure fair districts. It sets national standards guaranteeing two weeks of early voting, automatic voter registration, vote-by-mail for all who want it, and strict rules to prevent purging of eligible voters from the rolls. Civil rights advocates see this as crucial because of the scores of bills passing in state legislatures to restrict voter access in ways that disproportionately burden voters of color or low-income communities.

The bill seeks to reduce the influence of big money on our politics and improves transparency through provisions requiring disclosure of political contributors and funders of political ads. This bill has broader support than the For the People Act but Republicans are expected to filibuster it.  Here is a review of the bill from the Brennan Center for Justice. Common Cause calls it “a bold, comprehensive package of democracy reforms… With fair maps, politicians will have to start to look for solutions and work with people across the aisle. Politicians will have to listen more to consitutents than they do out of state donors and wealthy special interests.”

State level: Demand public hearings on draft Congressional districts: The Ohio Redistricting Commission is now supposed to be drawing new Congressional district maps for Ohio by Oct. 31, because the Ohio Legislature failed to come up with maps with bipartisan support.  If they do not act, the map-drawing process reverts to the Ohio Legislature. The Equal Districts Coalition is holding  a rally tomorrow at 2:30 at the Statehouse to demand that the Commission publish its draft map and hold public hearings including a virtual option.   Sign up here.

Ohio’s Fair Districts Coalition urges you to Picket 2 Protest at Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office any day from noon to 1, Oct. 18-22 and Oct. 25-27, and Oct. 28 on the west side of the Statehouse. Sign up here.

On a straight party-line vote, the Commission has already approved state legislative districts which guarantee a Republican supermajority, triggering lawsuits before the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the legality of the maps under the state’s new redistricting process approved as a constitutional amendment by over 70% of the vote in each county.

The Fair Districts Ohio coalition includes the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the Ohio Council of Churches, the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and others.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.