Editor’s note: David Arredondo is a Lorain resident, very involved in the Lorain community and a highly visible member of the Coalition for Hispanic/Latino Issues & Progress (CHIP). He is the vice chair for the Lorain County Republican Party. He’s often a featured guest on WEOL radio to discuss his work with international students at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) as well as sharing a center-right perspective on political issues. He’s also appeared as a Republican pundit on Feagler & Friends, which airs on the PBS affiliate in Cleveland, WVIZ. Professionally, David Arredondo is the Director of International Student Services at Lorain County Community College.
ABOUT OHIO’S NEW CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS
Elections have consequences and it is clear that the GOP has had the upper hand on redistricting following the census in 1990, 2000, and 2010. Given this trend, it is entirely possible that we can expect more of the same in 2021. Our current law dictates that the state legislature is required to re-draw congressional district lines based on the census results and this census shows that Ohio has lost enough residents to warrant a loss of 2 seats. One of the requirements is that each district must be comprised of a similar number of residents. This time it is about 720,000 residents.
Another requirement is that the plan must provide for “majority-minority” districts which means that a significant number of black residents must be grouped together so as not to dilute their voting power. So the plan must adhere to this or risk being thrown out and re-drawn. Republicans have done as such the past three times and so first, Louis Stokes, then Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and now Marcia Fudge have the district seat in Cuyahoga County set aside for them.
This means that the plan is not democratic giving an equal opportunity for all candidates. Even if Republicans, or Democrats for that matter, wanted to create a fair, non-partisan plan giving all citizens equal opportunity to run for Congress or vote for a congressman in a 50-50 district, it is nearly impossible given the Voting Rights Act requirement providing for a Democratic Party set-aside seat.
The current Voting Rights Act is a relic of the last century and of a time that no longer exists. It is time for it to be abolished in so far as it perpetuates unnecessary practices such as congressional minority seat set-asides and provisions for bi-lingual ballots. It essentially sets-aside a Democratic seat based on race or ethnicity. The days of lasting institutional racism are long past.
If you want proof of how far we’ve come, just look at the faces of recently elected governors in New Mexico, Nevada, South Carolina, and Louisiana—all Asian-, or Hispanic-Americans and all Republicans. Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American Republican was elected senator from Florida. Here is substantial proof that so-called minorities can be elected state-wide without set aside districts. Six of the sixty-three new GOP congressmen elected in 2010 were Hispanic-Americans and two African-American. None was from a majority-minority district. One new Puerto Rican congressman was elected from Idaho. How many Puerto Rican voters might there be in Idaho?
And Republicans are supposed to be bigots?
For self-serving purposes, former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is spreading the word that Democrats dropped the ball last year by not offering a new law providing for a reform of the Ohio congressional redistricting process. She claims that Democrats’ hubris precluded them from working with Republicans, namely then-Senator Jon Husted. Nonsense, sheer nonsense. I have my doubts about the reality of such a scenario given that at least as early as summer 2010, polls showed that some state races would be toss-ups, the House could shift back to GOP majority and add seats in the Senate. I saw no speculation anywhere that Democrats would run the table and win the House, Senate and governorship. Even if Democrats wanted to pass a law for redistricting reform, GOP Senate leader Paul Harris would never have approved. He, not Jon Husted, would have been the decider on such a ploy.
Within the past few weeks more talk has surfaced, primarily from media pundits and aggrieved Democrats like Brunner, to change the current redistricting law, if need be, by a ballot referendum. It seems these days ballot initiatives are the only means that Democrats have to push their agenda. No doubt they believe that voters have forgotten that a few short years ago in 2005, Democrats and their Academic elite MSM allies proposed not one, but four initiatives to change the redistricting process, provide for Early Voting, and a reorganization of the Secretary of States office, among other things I recall. All four of these so-called “reform” initiatives” failed by no less than 2-1 margins, even in Cuyahoga County. I don’t agree that Ohio is a 50-50 state. Certainly over the past twenty years Republicans have largely had control of the state offices as well as the legislature. Democratic dominance is long in the past. The majority of “likely” Ohio voters are Republicans and Democrats, partisan voters. I can’t see how anything has changed to expect a different outcome for a redistrict initiative today or next year.
So in 2010, the GOP won 13 Ohio districts, Democrats 5. It would appear that the Republican redistrict map was an exercise in ensuring re-election for most incumbents, both Democrat and Republican save for three. Republicans were more than generous in giving up one seat and creating a possibly new minority seat in Columbus for a Democrat while the Democrats only lost one seat.
Those on the bubble are: Democrats Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich and Betty Sutton from Northern Ohio and Republicans Steve Austria and Mike Turner from the Dayton area. Two have no seat and one has a chance for a seat in an adjacent district in which she’s have to beat the Republican incumbent.
Right now a “death match” is shaping up between Kucinich and Kaptur in the 9th District. Since this includes much of Lorain County which is Sutton’s district, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that she takes on Kaptur and Kucinich rather than run against Renacci in the 16th.
Last but not least a change needs to be made whereby college students are allowed to register and vote in districts where they attend school: Columbus, Oberlin etc. as well as their home districts. Our system does not have portable registration such that you only have one residence to register and vote. College students do. Whether or not some or all vote multiple times at school and at home is unknown but the possibility exists that some do. That is fraudulent and needs to be fixed along with other measures. It is my understanding that currently the Cuyahoga voting rolls show more than one million registered voters with an eligible voting population of fewer than 800,000. The city of Oberlin has more registered voters than residents. The current electoral system leaves a lot to be desired.