See if you can detect the not-very-hidden flaw in the Ohio redistricting proposal that passed last night:
The current five-member redistricting panel, which includes the governor, secretary of state, auditor and two legislative appointees, will be expanded to seven members with two additional legislative selections.
If at least two minority party members vote to approve the new maps, they take effect for 10 years. If not, then the maps must be redrawn again in four years.
The trick here is in the details. Essentially, whoever the Democrats pick on their side to sign off on the redistricting is going to have to choose between one of two unpleasant options: they can either guarantee that the state of Ohio gets embroiled in a lawsuit over the Voting Rights Act of 1965, or they can screw over white Democrats. Either is fine with the Republican party of Ohio, given that they’d be one of the parties doing the suing in the aforementioned lawsuit (the other being the Congressional Black Caucus, of course).
Seriously: assuming that Ohio loses more seats after the next Census (it’s not an unreasonable bet to make), the Republicans are going to want to have the Democrats take the brunt of the losses and the CBC is going to want that their seats in Ohio are safe. This is still easily doable under the new system. [UPDATE: as was pointed out here the ballot initiative doesn’t affect Federal Congressional districts. My bad.] It’s the four-years option that torpedoes attempts to change things; there’s no driving need for the GOP/CBC to make a deal with the rest of the Ohio Democratic party. Worse comes to worse, put up the new maps and let the next wave of Democratic leadership decide if they want to settle.
…and that’s pretty much it, folks. That is the situation. Personally, I don’t really approve – but I’m not an Ohioan, am I? Not my place to lecture, right? – Besides, it’ll still all blow up in somebody’s face eventually. These things generally do.