YES on Issue Two Is the ONLY Sane Vote

Issue Two — the constitutional amendment to change how Ohio draws its legislative and congressional maps — is going to lose.

That's a travesty. But the deck is stacked high against it. In fact, everyone who is cynical about government and politics, everyone who is not a rabid partisan of a major party, should not even be hesitating before voting YES. The only people who benefit from is defeat are those who believe that winner should take all and that one party which happens to win certain races in a certain year should be able to determine control of the state, not the voters. Every Ohio citizen who's tired of polarized, smear-based politics will benefit.

Because the Republicans were able to drawn insanely lopsided maps by winning certain offices in 2010, they are fighting Issue 2 tooth and nail with lies and tricks. Dubbing it Issue 2 was one such trick. Last year, of course, Issue 2 was the issue to repeal union-busting SB 5, and a no vote was required. This year it's YES on Issue 2.

They followed that by creating ballot language so inaccurate they were forced to revamp it. But the language is still daunting AND you have to scroll through column after column of dense copy in both English and Spanish before getting to the oval to vote. By then a lot of disgusted and confused voters will just vote no, or skip it altogether.

That's a horrible mistake, and one I think the Issue 2 campaign, called Voters First Ohio, has compounded. About a month ago I got the first mailer from the campaign. On the cover it features a nice photo of President Obama and Governor Strickland, and it says "It's time to take the power back!" — Ted Strickland.

The immediate impression is that it's a piece for the Obama campaign. I suspect most people who got it glanced at it and said, that's nice; I was already planning to vote for the president though.

Open it up and there's a photo of a sober looking Strickland and the headline "Don't give corporate special interests ANOTHER victory." Then there's a bunch of text no one will ever read. It starts will a bunch of boilerplate stuff I'm frankly tired of hearing about Karl Rove buying elections (please, can we retire this bogeyman already?)

It starts talking about Issue two halfway down and it's never clear about what it is and what it will do. I was told this was sent to low-information voters, hoping they would see Strickland and Obama together and just sort of blindly vote for whatever they endorsed. Why this was the first piece that I, an ultra-high-information voter whose involvement in Democratic politics on every level can be seen in my voting record at the board of elections, got was unexplainable.

The other piece I saw with the boxer with his hands behind his back was better, but still kind of rambling and unclear.

This issue is very simple to explain, and I can do it in a sentence. Since I don't like rambling sentences, I will do it in two:

"Currently Ohio congressional and legislative districts are drawn by the party leaders of the political party that wins certain offices in the census year. Issue 2 would replace this system with a citizens panel on which Republicans, Democrats and independents would each have an equal voice."

Meanwhile, the Republicans who want to maintain a stranglehold on the state have been spewing lies. I keep seeing the online ad that says, "Judges should remain impartial. Vote no on Issue 2." Appeals court judges were named to sift through applications and appoint the members of the nonpartisan citizens panel that Issue 2 puts in charge of redistricting BECAUSE they are supposed to be impartial. What's the alternative? Letting party bosses appoint them? That would defeat the whole purpose — and who would appoint the independents or third-party members?

They were also using the "TAKING YOUR TAX DOLLARS!" argument against this low-cost amendment, claiming falsely that the panel had the power to set their own salaries. Of course, the group of GOP political consultants who hacked up the state this time used tax dollars to book a private hotel room so they could do their work in secret, instead of using free space at the statehouse.

They're calling the panel "unaccountable," precisely what they were this time, even though the amendment spells out the guidelines the panel has to follow to create compact, contiguous, competitive districts that don't hack up communities. They whine that the panelists "can't be removed, even if they commit a crime." That's bullshit. They can't be arbitrarily dismissed by those in power, as Governor Jan Brewer and her legislative cronies in Arizona tried to do when they didn't like the panels result, with Brewer saying she could impeach a member of the panel for no reason at all if she felt like it. This amendment makes sure that politicians can't meddle by dismissing members of the panel.

I understand that Voters First Ohio did not have the million of dollars that wealthy special interests were willing to spent to keep their pals in power in Columbus and Washington. But I never got a solicitation for a donation until a couple of weeks ago. Given the network of progressive mailing lists I'm on, that's just negligent. It was also never clear how to volunteer or what anyone could do to help.

I hope that when Issue 2 goes down, Voters First Ohio will do a post mortem, regroup, and do it again in 2014. And in 2016 if necessary. And 2018. Then, if Democrats take those key offices in 2010, you will suddenly see Ohio Republicans thinking that the amendment is the greatest thing they have ever heard of, and embracing it exactly as written. At that point, I might be so angry I would go against everything I believe and oppose it myself.

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