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Citizen-Led Redistricting Reform Ballot Initiative in Ohio

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Citizens Not Politicians campaign is working to amend the Ohio Constitution this November to establish a citizen-led independent redistricting process for creating fair voting maps.

Published: April 25, 2024

In Ohio, a ballot initiative submitted by Citizens Not Politicians seeks major improvements to the process for drawing congressional and General Assembly districts. The new system would replace a politician- and lobbyist-centered process with a 15-member commission made up of Ohio voters representing communities across the state. The campaign is now gathering the 413,487 signatures necessary to place this redistricting amendment on the ballot in November 2024.

The need for this reform is urgent. For decades, Ohio has been one of the most gerrymandered states in the country. Politicians repeatedly ignored public input and drew congressional and legislative districts that slice up Ohio’s communities and deny voters the opportunity to choose representatives who reflect their values. Gerrymandering has also made it nearly impossible to vote out incumbents who fail to address the needs of constituents. As a result, a small number of powerful lobbyists and special interests have taken outsize control over policies that shape life and opportunities for all Ohioans.

The frustrations of redistricting litigation brought by Ohio voters in the Ohio Supreme Court have only underscored the lack of sufficient checks and the pressing need for a complete overhaul. The court repeatedly struck down blatantly gerrymandered districts, but the political map drawers refused to comply with judicial orders. The logjam left Ohioans with a set of illegal districts with no remedy, and little alternative but to pursue a public ballot measure for reform.

To make fair maps a reality, Ohio voters must take control away from self-interested politicians and establish new state constitutional safeguards that put communities first. That is exactly what the new Citizens Not Politicians Amendment would do.

Petition and Ballot Initiative Campaign Timeline

Ohio’s citizen initiative process allows voters to adopt amendments to the state constitution and make changes to state law directly without legislative approval. Across the country, this form of direct democracy has been an essential means of circumventing unresponsive legislators to protect the democratic process. For instance, voters in Arizona, California, and Michigan used the ballot initiatives to establish independent citizen-led redistricting commissions.

The Citizens Not Politicians campaign will have to satisfy a number of requirements to place the redistricting reform measure on the ballot in November 2024:

Brennan Center serves on the advisory committee of the Ohio Citizens Not Politicians redistricting reform campaign.

Illustration of the state of Ohio's congressional districts with various hands with pens pointing at it.
Court Case Tracker

Ohio Redistricting Litigation

The Brennan Center and co-counsel filed suit in the Supreme Court of Ohio on behalf of several community groups and Ohio voters challenging the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s extreme partisan gerrymander of the state’s legislative maps. We have also intervened in a federal lawsuit where right-wing activists have asked the court to disregard the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling.