Voting Rights and Redistricting
Republican Senators used the filibuster to prevent even debating the Freedom to Vote act we wrote about last week, which would provide national, legally enforceable standards to block partisan gerrymandering, as well as national standards providing all voters a baseline of access to early voting, convenient registration, and protection against purging of eligible voters. Meanwhile, protests and lawsuits are increasing as states with partisan majorities complete and adopt maps that disenfranchise voters.
In Ohio, gerrymandering is a white-hot issue. The Ohio Supreme Court is now working through depositions in lawsuits alleging that the state legislative districts adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission are unconstitutional in producing a veto-proof supermajority in the Legislature. Here’s an article from the Columbus Dispatch on testimony from plaintiffs and defendants. It documents the dominant role of the Senate President and House Speaker, with the statewide officials (Governor, Secretary of State, and Auditor, all Republicans) admitting they had almost no input.
Meanwhile, the Ohio Legislature failed to do its constitutional job to develop Congressional district maps, and the task reverted to the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which has produced no draft maps at all, and are required to hold public hearings on the draft by Sunday. Their failure to act means the map-drawing reverts to the State Legislature. The Dayton Daily News interprets these events as evidence that Republicans are running out the clock on the various constitutionally-mandated steps that require bipartisan support to achieve 10-year maps, instead settling for four-year maps that will get them through the next two election cycles.
We reported on the pressure on the Ohio Board of Education to repeal its 2020 anti-racism resolution. They voted Oct. 13 to do so, replacing it with a resolution “condemning any teaching that aims to divide,” as the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Permitless Conceal-Carry bill fifth hearing Thursday
The Ohio House Government Oversight Committee will have a fifth hearing and possible vote Thursday, Oct. 28 on HB 227, to allow concealed-carry in Ohio without a permit or training. This kind of bill could act as an accelerant to violence in a political environment where rage and social media attacks are becoming frequent, for example against school board members and public health officials.
Here is background on the bill. A huge outpouring of testimony and letters opposing this bill may have prevented its coming to a vote two weeks ago. Testimony needs to be submitted by Wednesday morning. Even if you wrote in before, just resubmit your letter. The volume of input is important. Please email your witness form and testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as Ranking Member Sweeney at email@example.com and your own state rep. Phone numbers of committee members are here: https://ohiohouse.gov/committees/government-oversight
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.