Ohio voters will have the opportunity this fall to decide whether to revamp the state’s system for redistricting. Yesterday, Secretary of State John Husted certified petitions submitted by Voters First to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

The constitutional amendment put forth by Voters First would create an independent commission to draw congressional and state legislative district line. The commission will be made up of Ohio citizens who will be selected by a panel of Ohio Court of Appeals judges. The commission will include an equal number of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Any Ohio citizen is able to apply for a seat on the commission; however, state and federal elected officials, their immediate family members, large political donors, and others would be not be eligible under the amendment.

The commission would draw new congressional and state legislative boundaries every 10 years. The commission would adopt a redistricting plan based on four criteria- keeping communities whole, achieving competitiveness, maintaining compactness and having districts leanings reflect how Ohioans previously voted in those areas.

The commission would replace the current system which legislative leaders, and statewide office holders control the once a decade process of redrawing the state’s Congressional and Legislation boundaries which results in the majority party in power having the opportunity to gerrymander.

If approved by voters, the redistricting reform constitutional amendment would go into effect immediately so that a new redistricting commission would draw a new map for 2012 in time for the 2014 state wide election. The current congressional and legislative districts have been roundly criticized as being drawn in secrete and heavily favoring Republicans.

Voters First is made up of a non-partisan coalition including the League of Women Voters and the Ohio AFL-CIO.