Can you be a mentor to high school girls?

It’s been almost 100 years since women gained the right to vote, and yet women are a tiny minority among our elected leaders in Licking County. Let’s do something about that gender gap!

Funded by a grant from the Women’s Fund and the LWV Ohio, we are starting an exciting new citizenship/leadership development program for high school girls.  We can support up to 20 girls working in small groups of two or three with an adult mentor.  We will arrange a variety of opportunities for these small groups where the girls can learn first-hand about government or politics, and at the same time, begin to reflect on their own potential for engagement and leadership.  

Typically, the mentor will accompany 2-3 girls to an event (e.g., a village council meeting, a political speaker, a feature film such as RBG, a march or rally) and then participate with them in discussion about what they saw and learned.  Did they learn something about how local government works?  Are they interested in engaging in such activities themselves in the future? Which of the participants they observed were the most effective and why?

The girls must commit to at least three such events/discussions over the course of the coming spring semester. All the students should be registered to vote by the end of the program if they are of age.  Each will receive a complimentary student membership in the League, and those who fulfill the requirements will be awarded a certificate of completion.

The mentor will be a facilitator rather than teacher.  Mentors should be good communicators, adept at texting as well as using email.  Especially, mentors should be good listeners who encourage the students to explore and express their own ideas and opinions. 

Mentors should commit to at least three events over the course of the spring semester.  (Estimating no more than 5 hours for each event – communicating and organizing, attending the event, and the discussion afterward- you might estimate spending 15 hours in this work.)  Mentors should consider whether they can offer to recommend these students if they apply for a job or some other opportunity in the future. 

With an estimated 20 girls in this program from the Newark-Granville area we will need 6-7 mentors.  Can you help with this initiative?  Mentors will start by meeting among themselves to brainstorm about possible events and talk about how to be effective in the role. 

Reply to this message or call/text me 740-525-2287 by Friday, January 11th if you want to participate.

Or contact me first to find out more.

Rita Kipp


Calling for Convention Volunteers
Members are the heart of LWVO’s success, and we need YOUR help with the 2019 State Convention! We need League members from Central Ohio to join the 2019 Convention Planning Committee (CPC). The 2019 State Convention will be held on May 10-12, 2019 at the Nationwide Hotel and Conference 
Center at Lewis Center, Ohio. 
Some of tasks of CPC include:
  • Recruiting and training  on-site volunteers (registration, set-up, etc…)
  • Helping with space set up
  • Finding sponsors for meals and snack breaks
  • Other activities as needed
If you are able and willing to commit your time to the convention as a planning committee member, please contact Jen Miller at 
Don’t miss the chance to be part of this exciting League event.
Thank you!
League of Women Voters of Ohio
League of Women Voters of Ohio | 614-469-1505 |



Reading the Ohio Voter

Members recently received their Ohio Voter, the print newsletter of the LWV Ohio.  Let me draw your attention to some things that may have escaped your notice in it:

1.        On the cover, Anne Goodge, Barbara Lechner, and Beth Ehrman are shown (in color!) at the voter registration table at the Granville Farmer’s Market wearing their LWV tees and looking great. 

2.       Inside, find the story our of “comeback” and a photograph from the Fourth of July parade.  It was SO hot that day, and yet we all look so happy! 

3.       Opposite that page, an article on a new At-large unit in Knox County mentions Meg Galipault, the organizing force of this new group.  Meg lives in Mt. Vernon but works at Denison.  I have spoken with her so I know that our chapter’s progress has been the playbook for what is happening now in Knox County.  We wish them success. 

4.       Finally, please read and think deeply about the piece just above our picture, ”LWVO Program Planning.”  It outlines how we can get involved, now that we are a Local League, in the process of selecting the issues for action and advocacy at the state level.  The LWVLC Board will be discussing this at our next meeting (January 6th) and will be communicating about it soon after. 

Are you staying warm? I am certainly trying.



Rapid Response Request 

 The Ohio Legislature is waging an attack on democracy, making it more difficult to amend the Ohio Constitution through ballot initiative. The proposed more stringent requirements favor groups with large amounts of money and make the initiated ballot process all but impossible for nonprofit organizations that rely on volunteers.  ACT NOW TO STOP HJR19. 

1. Call the Senate President Larry Obhof (614-466-7505), Speaker of the House Ryan Smith (614-466-1366), and your legislators to ask them to vote against HJR19.

2.  Join our all member-call on Tuesday, December 4 at noon to learn more about HJR19 and what you can do to help us mobilize a coalition to defend Ohio’s democratic process.

3. Did you collect signatures for the Fair Districts=Fair Elections campaign? Please join our Tuesday press conference in Downtown Columbus at 10:30 a.m. in a show of support. Email Jen Miller at if you are interested.

LWVO Advocacy Team


League of Women Voters of Ohio | 614-469-1505 |


Action Alert 

 Protect the right to peaceful protest!


Act now to stop Ohio Senate Bill (SB) 250, which criminalizes the right to peaceful protest at oil and gas facilities in Ohio deemed “critical infrastructure projects”. SB 250 also makes it illegal to fly aerial drones over such facilities. This legislation was drafted by “dirty energy” industries in reaction to protests against large pipeline projects, and is a copycat bill of others drafted by those same officials across the country.

Act now and let your elected officials know that you want to them vote NO on SB 250. 

Talking points against SB 250

  • It will criminalize peaceful protest.
  • The Ohio Revised Code already includes laws that criminalize the damage of private property.
  • It hinders the work of undercover journalists and activists working to expose illegal activity.
  • It would make industries feel safer in committing serious environmental crimes and endangering Ohio’s land and water.

Find your legislators contact information here and call them now!

Thank you,

LWVO Advocacy Team



The Hands That Feed Us

Presenters: Bryn Bird and Rabbi Jessica Shimberg

Key Points of the Presentation:
• Immigrant labor and families are essential to our agricultural economy. In the U.S. about 2.5 million farmworkers are hired annually. The average family income averages $17,000 to $19,000 a year. Most of the workers come from Mexico and bring their families, migrating to follow the harvest across the country. About 13,700 migrant workers travel to Ohio through the H2A visa program.

• In Ohio and Licking County, many small farmers depend on migrant labor, such as Branstool Orchards and Shipley’s Dairy Farm. Many of the same families have been coming to Licking County for years and are seen as “dependable and hardworking employees.”

• The work is hard and farmworkers average 14 hour days, from sunrise to sunset. Many under-age children are also working in the fields, working alongside their parents. About 25% of our food picked in the U.S. is by children as young as 6. Children go to school and then join their parents in the field through the afternoon and weekends.

• In 2011, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a worker-based human rights organization, launched the Fair Food Program. It is a unique partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retail food companies that ensures humane wages and working conditions for the workers who pick fruits and vegetables on participating farms. Large companies such as Taco Bell, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s have signed on to this agreement. Other companies, such as Kroger’s and Wendy’s have not.

• Rabbi Jessica explained that we need to do our best to ensure the food we put into our mouths is clean and free of human exploitation—and workers’ basic rights have not been violated—that those who tend the crops weren’t sprayed by pesticides, have adequate living facilities and shade access, and are free from sexual assault in the fields.

• Bryn Bird pointed out that you can help create a fair good system with your food dollars every day. Simple choices make a difference, such as buying in-season produce, avoiding imported and out of season berries. Buy directly from local producers who respect worker rights and where you can ask about farmworker conditions. You can also join a local CSA program and purchase meat and dairy products from those who use independent meat processing facilities.

Thanks to Bryn Bird, here is a list of Farmworker Justice Resources:
– Books, – Support Organizations, – Documentaries
LINK: Farmworker Justice Resources (004)

Sample Letter:
Please note that unlike many large companies, both Kroger’s and Wendy’s –have not signed on to the Fair Food Program. Out of concern, League member Karen Semer did some more research and wrote the below letter to Kroger about her concerns. You can help by writing a similar letter to:

The Kroger Co.
Customer Relations
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202-1100

Wendy’s Customer Relations
1 Dave Thomas Blvd.
Dublin, OH 43017

Example Letter:

The Kroger Co.
Customer Relations
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-1100 

I am a frequent Kroger shopper (we really like the new store in Newark Ohio).  I recently attended a community discussion about the people who harvest our food; the agricultural workers in Ohio and elsewhere.   I heard some sad and disturbing stories about the working and living conditions of these people.

I would gladly pay a few cents more a pound for produce, if I knew my store supported the conditions of the Fair Food Standards Council.  I have looked over the info on your website about your social responsibility audit program, but that program only appears to apply to the last link in the supply chain.

I ask you to please join the Fair Food Program.  I’m sure it is not perfect; but it is a largely successful program.  Elements of the Fair Food Program that are important to me include the following that Participating Growers have agreed to:

  • Compliance with the human rights-based Code of Conduct, including zero tolerance for forced labor, child labor and sexual assault;
  • Health and safety committees on every farm to give workers a structured voice in the shape of their work environment;
  • Specific and concrete changes in harvesting operations to improve workers’ wages and working conditions, including the provision of shade in the fields, and the use of time clocks to record and count all compensable hours accurately; and
  • Ongoing auditing of the farms by the Fair Food Standards Council to insure compliance with each element of the program.

Please leverage the massive buying power of the Kroger to ensure that farm workers are fairly treated.  It is the right thing to do.


League of Women Voters of Licking County, September 25, 2018


Annual Meeting of LWV Licking County

Transition from At-Large members to a Local League

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoor

Also thank you to keynote speaker Mike Curtin, long-time reporter, editor, and Associate Publisher of the Columbus Dispatch. Mike spoke to us about the impact of the League both in Ohio and in our country because of its commitments AND persistence in addressing the critical issues that affect us all. All in all, a wonderful evening!!

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30 August 2018


July Fourth Festival Report and Thanks

Dear Friends in League,

Our “haul” for working at the Granville Fourth of July Festival and Farmer’s Market, July 4 – July 7, was 17 new registrations and 3 updated ones. Those are only the most obvious results. Harder to enumerate are the number of times we asked people if they knew about the Special Election (SO many did not!) and proceeded to explain, the absentee ballots we handed out, the times we addressed concerns about purging and other matters.

For one couple who were updating their address to Granville township, I was able to explain where their polling place was. Of course, we also pointed people to our LWVLC website and handed out a few membership forms as well.

We need to imagine our Voter Services tables more expansively than simply registering new voters, although that is very important. From now on, we will include in the tub of supplies a folder of FAQs on various topics — election security, voter purging, absentee voting — so that volunteers will be supported when answering such questions.

I had hoped for “a small army of volunteers” and that is exactly what we got. Thank you to everyone who played a part.
• Thanks, above all, to Anne Goodge, who organized the time slots and handled the logistics of setting up and taking down each day.

These contributions were also key:
• Anita Carroll gave us space in front of the Granville Public Library
• Steve Matheny and Christine Ramsey let us use their tent. Essential in that hot weather!
• Maija Bamfordlet us stash the tent and table at her house over night.

Finally, thanks to that small army of volunteers who showed up to share the work and the camaraderie under the tent. You made it look like fun:

Anne Aubourg
Anne Goodge
Austin McElroy
Barb Lechner
Beth Ehrman
Carol Apacki
Cathy Dollard Burczak
Charlie O’Keefe
Cindy McElroy
Jane Harf
Jane Montz
Janet Schultz
Judy Stanbury
Karen Semer
Ken Apacki
Kris Mitchell
Laura Joseph
Linda Wiegand
Lon Herman
Lyn Boone
Mary Tuominen
Michelle Newman Brady
Rich Kipp
Rita Kipp
Sarah Leavell

Anne and I will be sitting down together soon to see what we learned from the experience and how to do it better going forward. If any of you volunteers have experiences or ideas along those lines, please reply to share them with me.



Sharing advance copy for The Voter

From Rita Kipp, President

This was my first LWV National Convention.  I was excited to go and the experience did not disappoint.  As a voting delegate, I had a voice in shaping the budget, selecting new officers and other leaders, and determining the national program of action and advocacy over the next two years.  Many of us took a break from the convention on Saturday to join tens of thousands in the streets to rally for Families Belong Together. “America was built by refugees,” read the sign that I liked best.

My two favorites among a number of excellent speakers at the convention were Rosie Rios and Elaine Weiss.  Rios, the 43rd Treasurer of the United States, spoke with humor and passion (and without notes) about a campaign to place images of real women on the US currency and also in public statuary.  Weiss, author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (2018) described the long struggle of LWV founder Carrie Chapman Catt and others.  I can’t wait to read the book.  There was much to learn and bring back home.  Among those lessons, a panel and a training session on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion resonated most strongly with me.   I will be sharing ideas with others and brainstorming about strategies to expand the reach of the League in our community.

Because mine is an At-large Unit rather than a Local League, my name badge was not like the others: It did not specify where I am from (Licking County).  Rather, it simply read “LWV Ohio” as if I represented the whole state! Perhaps that explains why my heart especially filled with pride as 50 of us from Ohio jumped up together as one and cheered when the LWVUS award for Strengthening Democracy went to LVWO for the Fair Districts = Fair Elections campaign and for educating voters about Issue +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Hello LWVLC,

I will not forward these newsletters to you in the future unless we are mentioned in it, but I do so now to report that we have recently joined the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce.  Scroll down (newsletter not included) to see our logo and the nice little blurb about us.

Membership in the GACC gives us access to the Farmers Market where we can collect voter registrations (or update them for people) and tell prospective members about the League. We also gain entree to a network of businesses and civic groups that may help the fund-raising work of our Development Committee.  Recall, too, that I spoke on behalf of the League about Issue 1 at the GACC’s Issues Forum in May.

Just so you know…Rita6/12/2018LINK to Granville Area Chamber of Commerce June 2018 Member Newsletter: to GACC website:


This is your chance to get involved

Dear League Members,

A couple of times over the last year, people have expressed some guilt about not getting more involved in the League. I have responded, “I am not here to make anyone feel guilty.” On the other hand, I am sure people join the League because they DO want to get involved. They want to contribute in some way to the League’s mission.

Here is your chance. We are putting committees and a leadership structure in place appropriate to our future status as a Local League. In the coming weeks, you may be contacted by one of the officers or a committee leader asking you to serve on a committee. Say yes! Many of these committees will not require frequent or regular meetings but will come together only around certain tasks.

Get ready for the call or email request. Or let me know by a reply message that you are interested in a particular committee. The committees are described fully on our website, under the Home tab. In brief they are:

Plan and execute fund-raising among individuals and businesses to support the League’s work  Apply for grants

Educational Events
Sponsor our own events – speakers, panels, social events, film-showings – to educate ourselves and the public about current issues

Plan periodic outreach, at least once a year, to add new members
Record new memberships in a database and track renewal dates
Help to welcome and socialize new members

Solicit and receive nominations for Officers and Directors from voting members.
Present the report to the Annual business meeting

Social Events
Plan and organize periodic social events

Voter Education
Assist in using VOTE411 to produce voter guides online and in print
Organize candidate nights or forums

Voter Registration
Organize National Voter Registration Day, late September (college campuses, non-profits)
Mostly spring semester, register seniors at high schools

Thank you for becoming a member of the League of Women Voters. We have accomplished quite a lot over the past year. Help us continue to grow and expand our influence in Licking County by playing an active part in the work.


The Forum on Congressional District 12

The Forum in Delaware last night was a big success, I think. 

The house was full (265 people).  ABC6 did a great job of making the stage look good, including our new banner along with those of the other sponsors. The audience was interested and sometimes vocal.  The candidates adhered to the assigned times.I was struck by how different was the atmosphere at a forum where the candidates came from 3 different parties and where the audience was also clearly mixed.  In the final 30-second wrap up allotted to each candidate, Ed Albertson (a LWVLC member) led with, “THIS is what democracy looks like.”

I counted ten of us there from Licking County — a pretty good showing given how far away this was (45+ minutes and requiring a drive at night.)  I am also glad that LWVLC got some great exposure from co-hosting this event.

LINK: to ABC6:


LWV Ohio Statement on Shooting in Parkland, FL

Columbus, OH – Mary Kirtz Van Nortwick and Alison Ricker, League of Women Voters of Ohio Co-Presidents, issued the following statement about Wednesday’s mass shooting:

“The senseless murder of seventeen children and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida shows once again the tragic results of lax gun regulation in our country. The League of Women Voters of Ohio believes that the proliferation of handguns and semi-automatic assault weapons in the United States is a major health and safety threat to its citizens. For that reason, LWVO supports strong federal measures to limit accessibility and regulate ownership of these weapons by private citizens. In particular, we believe that deadly weapons like the AR-15, used in all of the most recent mass killings throughout our country, should be kept out of civilian hands. We will make every effort to fight against laws that further erode restraints on the ownership and usage of guns in Ohio.”


Ohio able to draw districts without gerrymandering

Jessie Balmert,  Cincinnati Enquirer, USA TODAY NETWORK2/9/2018 COLUMBUS –

In an age of partisan bickering, Ohio’s lawmakers inked a deal on drawing congressional lines that hinged on an increasingly taboo word in politics: compromise.

It’s a deal that former Speaker John Boehner, a Butler County Republican, had hoped would never happen. He fought efforts to wrest the line-drawing pen from the GOP in 2014 when state lawmakers reformed how state districts were drawn.

It’s a deal that Democrats in the Ohio House killed in 2009, certain that they would be in a better position after the 2010 elections. They were wrong and Republicans swept the statewide races. Drawing congressional districts to favor one party over the other — known as gerrymandering — has led to uncompetitive races that leave voters feeling apathetic or disenfranchised.

Ohio’s latest map, drawn by Republicans after the 2010 U.S. Census, has led to 12 GOP districts and four Democratic districts in the red-leaning state. “These rigged and partisan districts made a mockery of our elections and they turn people o from voting,” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat running for secretary of state.

Ohio is one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation. Pressured by a coalition of good government groups, called Fair Districts = Fair Elections, aiming for a fall ballot initiative, lawmakers embarked on months of negotiations, which at times, appeared to have fallen apart.

Facing a Wednesday deadline to get their plan before voters, lawmakers met on Super Bowl Sunday.

Huddled in a small room at a community action center in downtown Akron were Sen. Matt Huffman, Sen. Vernon Sykes, Senate President Larry Obhof, Senate Minority Leader Yuko, Senate Democrats’ lawyer Bethany Sanders and Senate Republicans’ budget director Ray DiRossi.
As the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles battled back and forth, so did Republicans and Democrats during a five-hour meeting.
A representative from Fair Districts = Fair Elections texted opinions while watching the game elsewhere. “What a great way to spend Super Bowl Sunday,” Huffman remarked.
What emerged, would become a bipartisan compromise on how to draw lines in Ohio. The final version, which passed the Ohio Senate 31-0 Monday and the Ohio House 83-10 Tuesday, was hailed as a “bipartisan compromise.” Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Roselawn, was one of the “no” votes, saying she wanted the right to vote enshrined in the state constitution, too.
To take effect, voters must approve the plan in May.
Here’s how the first-of-its-kind map-drawing would work:
After the U.S. Census, Ohio lawmakers would create a map, which would last for 10 years. It would need approval from three-fifths of members and one-half of the minority party’s members to take effect.
If they can’t agree, a seven-member redistricting commission would create a 10-year map. That group includes the governor, auditor, secretary of state and four lawmakers – two of whom would come from the minority party. A majority of the commission and at least two members of the minority party would need to agree on a map for it to take effect.
If the commission can’t agree, state lawmakers would have another crack at creating a 10-year map. It would need approval from three-fifths of members and one-third of the minority party’s members to take effect.
If that fails, lawmakers in the majority party could draw a map that lasts four years without support from the minority party.
That map cannot unduly favor one party; excessively split counties, townships or municipalities or draw districts that are not compact. The majority must explain how they met these three goals.
Any map drawn by lawmakers could be vetoed by the governor or brought to a vote by the public through a referendum. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, 65 would not be split, 18 would be split just once and five — the state’s most populous counties — could be split twice. 
Obhof put the new process simply: “Get along with your colleagues. Cooperate across party lines, and if you try to cram down a strictly partisan map, you aren’t going to be able to do it so learn how to work together.”


Both Houses Pass Redistricting Reform


As you know, this week both houses of the Ohio legislature passed a congressional redistricting reform resolution that was supported (and negotiated) by the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition. 

If you have questions about the resolution that was passed, this video is well worth your time.

Catherine, Heather, and Anne (key players in the Fair Districts coalition) answer questions about the resolution and about our next steps to support the May ballot issue as well as our signature collection campaign. 

As Heather notes:

  • The coalition’s energy has been focused on negotiating the successful resolution.
  • As a result, the coalition has not yet developed the details of a plan to support the May ballot issue.
  • The coalition *will* support the May ballot issue.
  • Details about signature collection for the November ballot initiative will be forthcoming.

Thanks to each of you who have collected signatures to support the Fair Districts ballot initiative.  It is clear that our signature collection was a force that put pressure on the legislature to negotiate with us and to take action. 

Stay tuned! Mary Tuominen for the Indivisible: OH12 EAST Steering Committee (Susan Haas, Rita Kipp, Julie Mulroy, Charlie O’Keefe, and Mary Tuominen) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Compromise to Curb Gerrymandering in Ohio Passes State Senate





break down of legislative negotiations with Fair Districts = Fair Elections

1/30/2018 by email from OH12East:

Yesterday negotiations between the legislature and the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition regarding Congressional redistricting reform broke down.  As a result, we will be mobilizing again in response to Republican attempts to get a sham anti-gerrymandering initiative on the ballot in May.

Hearings are taking place this morning for a substitute SJR 5.  We will be in touch soon to ask you to contact your legislators.  Thank you for your continued involvement and activism.


After days of negotiations between members of the Fair Districts=Fair Elections coalition and leaders of the Ohio legislature, efforts to reach a compromise have failed. Legislative leaders have created a system that fails to minimize county splits or create a bipartisan system, leaving Ohioans across the state living in unfair congressional districts for the next decade.

“We sat for days in good faith and always said any deal must halt partisan gerrymandering and keep communities together. S.J.R. 5 does neither and completely abandons the voters,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council and one of the leaders of Fair Districts=Fair Elections. “This is simply why no one trusts politicians. We have no choice to continue onward with our ballot initiative to ensure voters across Ohio aren’t gerrymandered into districts where their elected representatives aren’t beholden to voters.”

“We are disappointed that we couldn’t come together on a fair solution. The Huffman proposal simply does not address partisan gerrymandering,” said Ann Henkener with the League of Women Voters. “Any solution needs to focus on the voters and fair elections. Our ballot initiative will move Ohio to fair congressional districts, and we look forward to ramping up efforts to ensure voters have a chance to speak loudly this November.”

“Voters deserve fair districts that aren’t manipulated,” said Catherine Turcer, with Common Cause Ohio. “The Huffman proposal was amended but allows drawing district lines for partisan advantage and allows communities and counties to be sliced and diced. It would simply legitimize gerrymandering in the Ohio Constitution. We’re going to fight it.”

The Fair Districts=Fair Elections coalition ballot initiative has thus far collected nearly 200,000 of a required 305,591 signatures to appear on the November ballot.…/statement-from-fair-dis…

Mary Tuominen for the Indivisible: Ohio 12 EAST Fair Districts Steering Committee (Susan HaasRita KippRegina MartinJulie Mulroy, Charlie O’Keefe, and Mary Tuominen)


We gave it our best shot


Ending gerrymandering in Ohio is near and dear to my heart. I’ve worked on Capitol Hill, and I know the influence constituents can have on their decision-makers. WE are the people impacted by federal policies, and their voices should be prioritized. 

That’s why for the past week I’ve been in intense negotiations with state lawmakers to reach a congressional redistricting proposal that keeps communities whole and ensures Ohioans’ voices are truly heard each election. Unfortunately, partisan interests are keeping a fair deal off the table, and we’re gearing up to fight this all the way to the ballot this November. 

I wanted you to be one of the first to know this breaking development. Please share our statement below: 

“After days of negotiations between members of the Fair Districts=Fair Elections coalition and leaders of the Ohio legislature, efforts to reach a compromise have failed. Legislative leaders have created a system that fails to minimize county splits or create a bipartisan system, leaving Ohioans across the state living in unfair congressional districts for the next decade.

“We sat for days in good faith and always said any deal must halt partisan gerrymandering and keep communities together.  S.J.R. 5 does neither and completely abandons the voters,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council and one of the leaders of Fair Districts=Fair Elections. “This is simply why no one trusts politicians. We have no choice to continue onward with our ballot initiative to ensure voters across Ohio aren’t gerrymandered into districts where their elected representatives aren’t beholden to voters.”

Heather Taylor-Miesle
Executive Director
Ohio Environmental Council

1145 Chesapeake Ave. Suite I
Columbus, Ohio 43212
(614) 487-7506

Licking County Residents Testimony on Gerrymandering

Video at SJR5 Hearing:

Ed Albertson – Candidate for US House, Ohio District 12
Rita Kipp – President, League Of Women Voters of Licking County

Mary Tuominen testimony to SRJ5:

TO: The Ohio Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee

FROM: Mary Tuominen

DATE: January 23, 2018

Re: Written Testimony in Opposition to SJR 5 submitted for the January 24, 9:45am hearing of Government Oversight and Reform Committee

Senator Coley and Members of the Committee,

My name is Mary Tuominen.  I’m a retired educator.  I live in the village of Granville in Licking County and have for nearly 25 years.

I remember the first election in which I voted – the 1972 Presidential election. Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern.  If you’re my age you will never forget that election.  Nixon won by a landslide — 49 states and over 60% of the popular vote.

I have voted in every election since.  General elections and midterm elections and primary elections and special elections. I vote in every election because I believe that our right to vote is the foundation of democracy.  In a democracy, it’s as close to sacred as you can get.  And, this is why I oppose gerrymandering.

Every citizen’s vote should count. But, when districts are drawn specifically for the purpose of partisan advantage, democracy is meaningless.  Candidates are assured re-election and need not be accountable to voters.

Clearly, the voters of Ohio understand this.  In 2015 we voted, by an over 70% majority, in support of Issue 1 — establishing a non-partisan legislative redistricting plan. Now it’s time for the people of Ohio to have our say in creating a non-partisan Congressional redistricting plan.

Where I live, in the eastern section of the 12th Congressional District, over 60 citizen volunteers, including myself, have participated in training to collect signatures for the Fair Districts = Fair Elections congressional redistricting reform initiative.  In the last six months these volunteers, members of Indivisible: Ohio 12 East, have collected over 4,000 signatures in support of the Fair Districts initiative. We have collected signatures in primarily rural counties of the state – Licking, Muskingum, Perry, Fairfield, Morgan.  We have collected signatures at county fairs and music festivals, at farmer’s markets and public libraries, at neighborhood picnics and family gatherings. Folks from all walks of life have signed our initiative – folks who care about democracy, oppose gerrymandering, and support a fully non-partisan Congressional redistricting process as articulated in the Fair Districts = Fair Elections initiative language.

The Fair Districts initiative was months in the making.  It is rooted in the citizen initiative process – requiring extensive voter education and support to even get on the ballot for a vote.  Therefore, what is the rush in getting a legislative proposal on the May ballot?  Especially when volunteers in the Fair Districts = Fair Elections coalition have already gathered half of the signatures needed to place a congressional redistricting reform initiative on the ballot in November – an initiative that uses the language crafted by this very state legislature in 2015 (the Issue 1 ballot language) to ensure a non-partisan redistricting process that is fully transparent to the public.

In contrast, SJR 5 maintains the legislature’s control over the process of redrawing district boundaries. SJR 5 retains the splitting of counties and communities that exists in our currently gerrymandered districts. SJR 5 fails to establish a non-partisan redistricting commission as enacted by Ohio voters in 2015 for the legislative redistricting process.

The citizens of Ohio deserve better than SJR 5.  Democracy deserves better than SJR 5.  In fact, democracy requires better than SJR 5.  Democracy requires competitive elections – which can only occur through districts that are drawn in a fully non-partisan manner that is open and transparent to the public.

Please oppose SJR 5. Instead, support the congressional redistricting process that voters endorsed in 2015 under Issue 1 – which is the language of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections ballot initiative.


Mary Tuominen

452 North Granger Street

Granville, OH 43023-1327



Indivisible: OH 12 EAST meets with Hottinger’s staff

We’ve all heard about Senator Matt Huffman’s January 10th resolution to, in effect, preempt Fair Districts = Fair Elections’ ballot initiative by having the General Assembly vote in a sham redistricting commission. 

The members of Indivisible: OH12 East’s steering committee responded by quickly deciding that a group of community representatives active in Fair Districts = Fair Elections should meet with State Senator Jay Hottinger (who represents all of Licking County) and State Representative Scott Ryan (who represents the 71st district) to express objections to the Huffman resolution and to encourage them both to resist the resolution’s passage.  

Although Representative Ryan’s staff hasn’t yet followed through on our request to meet with him, Senator Hottinger quickly agreed to get together with several members of our steering committee and Irene Kennedy, former member of the Newark City Council and current 5D precinct Democratic captain.  In addition to Irene, Susan Haas (via skype) and Charlie O’Keefe attended, along with Lynn Gorchov speaking for the local League of Women Voters and Regina Martin speaking for Strong Voices Rising. 

Although we were told upon arrival at the Statehouse on Tuesday morning that the Senator was unexpectedly unavailable, we had a productive meeting with one of the Senator’s staffers.  Most notably, we got to emphasize repeatedly that our chats with signatories of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections’ petition show that Ohio voters across the entire range of political affiliation want the end of gerrymandering as much now as in 2015, a point corroborated by the finding that recent Ohio voters often skip voting for representatives when completing their ballot because they realize that gerrymandering makes it pointless. It was also noted that the Huffman resolution would entail needless expense: Fair Districts = Fair Elections’ initiative will get to the Huffman resolution’s purported goal of fair redistricting anyway without the added expense of the State having also to go down Huffman’s path.  In addition, the possibility was glimpsed that if the May resolution and the initiative both carry, there will be the further state expense of litigation to sort out how the one bears on the other. 

The best news is that our message was positively, even warmly received, in part we believe because Senator Hottinger has long been an opponent of the partisan corrosiveness of gerrymandering, as evidenced for example by his being one of the difference makers in the success of the 2015 initiative. 

The bad news is that we just don’t know what political headwinds Senator Hottinger and other like-minded Republican members of the Assembly will have to tack against when it comes to voting on the Huffman resolution.  So please plan—with specifics, now! — to mitigate that bad news by contacting the Senator to express your sincere appreciation of his past stand on gerrymandering in 2015 and on his current receptiveness to the point of view of the Fair Districts = Fair Elections campaign as expressed by our group. Support for Hottinger with these messages could create effective political capital for him when he faces the cost of differing with Republican leadership.   

Just because the weather stinks for canvassing for signatures doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to support the Fair Districts campaign in other ways.  Help make a difference, call Senator Hottinger at (614) 466-5838. 

Charlie O’Keefe, for the 2018 OH12 East Fair Districts = Fair Elections Steering Committee (Susan Hass, Rita Kipp, Regina Martin, Julie Mulroy, Charlie O’Keefe, and Mary Tuominen).  Wednesday, 1/17/2018

Action Required Now – Redistricting Working Group Proposal Is Worse Than Current Gerrymandering

January 12, 2018

Friends and neighbors: We know you’ve received a lot of appeals about the Fair Districts initiative in the last few days, but THIS IS URGENT.

 Ohio Republicans have abandoned the pretense of bipartisanship, and are introducing a Congressional redistricting plan that is worse than what we have now. It fixes some problems with the current map but still would allow extreme partisan gerrymandering and an even more skewed Ohio delegation sent to the U.S. Congress. They hope to push their scheme through the General Assembly quickly, with a vote in the Senate by the end of next week, and then on to the House. They are in a rush to pass a constitutional amendment before February 7 so that they can put it on the May ballot. That would be a nightmare for us, as we would have to campaign for a “no” vote on their proposal while continuing to collect signatures for ours, which, as a citizens’ initiative can only go on the November ballot.

 Citizens must respond QUICKLY and STRONGLY to this attempt to further weaken our voting rights. If they miss the February 7 deadline they then can continue to work with the Fair Districts coalition to produce real reform for the November ballot, or simply get out of our way and let us proceed with our citizens’ initiative. They are afraid of our success so far and are trying to derail our effort. They should be ashamed.

*Contact Republican leadership, the Republican members of the Working Group, and your state legislators. Contact them NOW. See below —

(On September 28, 2017 legislative leaders announced the creation of the Ohio Congressional Redistricting Reform Working Group.
State Senators Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Vern Sykes (D-Akron) and
State Representatives Kirk Schuring (R-Canton) and Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) were appointed to be on the Working Group.

The Fair Districts Steering Committee has arranged a meeting with Sen. Hottinger on Tuesday, and is working on one with Rep. Scott Ryan, but the more of us they hear from the better.

From — Susan Haas for the 2018 OH12 East Fair Districts = Fair Elections Steering Committee (Susan Hass, Rita Kipp, Regina Martin, Julie Mulroy, Charlie O’Keefe, and Mary Tuominen).

January 10, 2018 – State Sen. Vernon Sykes gave an update on the Legislative Redistricting Working Group in a conference call with the ODP Truth Team tonight.

He stated that after having met seven or eight times, despite citizen testimony unanimously supporting a change, the Working Group has not been able to come up with an agreement. The Republican members are anxious to put something on the May ballot. The Republican members feel strongly that the General Assembly should control the mapmaking.

The proposal introduced today was a concept outline of a three-stage process, which has been described in other posts today.

*The initial responsibility for map-drawing would be with the General Assembly. If a plan passed by a 3/5 vote, including 1/3 of the members of the minority party, it would be in place for ten years.

*If the General Assembly could not muster the votes to pass such a plan, the question would then go to the Redistricting Commission established in 2015 Issue 1. As with their General Assembly apportionment, a ten-year plan could be enacted with a majority that included at least two “aye” votes from members of the minority party.

*If there were not sufficient votes in the Commission to pass a ten-year map, then they could pass a map valid for four years by a simple majority regardless of minority-party objection; the map so drawn would then go to the General Assembly, which could ratify it for ten years with a simple majority including at least 1/5 of the votes from the minority party.

*The maps would be enacted via resolution, rather than bill, meaning that there would be no right to citizen referendum nor gubernatorial veto.

Sykes did not specifically describe the criteria that would be used in drawing the maps under the Republicans’ proposal, but characterized them as “window dressing” and “superficial.” While some of the current districts would not pass muster under the proposed plan, it would have no material impact on the majority party’s ability to draw districts in its own favor. Analysis shows that the Republicans’ plan would allow a map that awarded 12 of the expected 15 districts to Republican candidates, despite the very narrow Republican majority among Ohio voters. He expressed the opinion that the proposal is worse than what we have now.

Huffman plans to introduce a resolution in the Senate next week, with a view to a swift floor vote, and sending it to the House the following week for anticipated quick action there.

Asked what citizens can do to try to save our voting rights, Sykes responded that besides proceeding full steam ahead on collecting signatures for the Fair Districts Initiative, we should contact the Republican leadership, the Republican members of the Working Group, and our own legislators – the sooner the better, given the short time frame. Ask them what the rush is, and why they don’t want to let the citizens’ initiative proceed. Call, write and visit. Meet with them in their districts, where you and they live. Look them in the eye. Try to get them to commit to voting No on Huffman’s proposal. Representatives who have more moderate voting records and/or who represent more politically diverse districts may be more amenable to persuasion.

Let them know that you’ll remember their vote on gerrymandering, when they’re up for re-election. Approach them as not only your representatives, but also as candidates. Every member of the Ohio House, and half of the Senate, will be up for re-election this November. Include the question of gerrymandering on any candidate questionnaire.

And keep collecting signatures!

Time is of the essence! Supporters of the proposed congressional redistricting reform plan want a legislative vote by January 24 to get the proposal on the May ballot.

Please call to oppose this plan.

Rep. Kirk Schuring, chair of the Working Group, (614-752-2438)

Sen. Matt Huffman (614-466-7584)

Sen. Jay Hottinger (614-466-5838)
email form:

Rep. Scott Ryan (614) 466-1482)
email form:

Tell them your name and address. Tell them that:

  1. you oppose the congressional redistricting reform proposal announced by Sen. Matt Huffman on January 10.
  2. you support the Fair Districts = Fair Elections congressional redistricting reform proposal
  3. you support a redistricting reform proposal that is bipartisan and uses the Ohio Redistricting Commission already in the Ohio Constitution (as passed by 70% of Ohio voters in 2015)

Thank you for your calls.
Rita Kipp
Licking County LWV

Ed: For more contact information for State Senators and State Representatives go to the Resources tab above.


The numbers are in and…
National Voter Registration Day 2017
was a huge success!
A big thanks to everyone who supported National Voter Registration Day in 2017! Thanks as well to all who completed the partner survey to let us know how your events fared.We tallied all the figures, and the final numbers just blew us away! Thanks to the involvement of 9,631 volunteers from 2,851 partners across the country, we collectively gathered 124,290 new or updated voter registrations. Both of these numbers far exceeded our original goals of 2,000 partners and 75,000 registrations.We thank you and everyone who engaged in the work of National Voter Registration Day. Click the image below to download the final report for National Voter Registration Day 2017.Mark your calendars! National Voter Registration Day will fall on Tuesday, September 25 in 2018.If you support our work, please consider making an end-of-year donation today!Enjoy the holidays,The National Voter Registration Day Team


LWVLC Awarded Grant

The League of Women Voters of Licking County has been awarded a small grant from LWV Ohio under a program called:
Women’s Voices: Training the Next Generation of Women Leaders.

These grants aim to “connect current women political leaders in our communities with high school girls to serve as role models and encourage youth civic engagement, mentoring, and tools for high school girls to become engaged voters.”

The Licking chapter proposed an opportunity for education and voter registration of high school students in connection with a presentation by local or state-level women office-holders or candidates.

A panel will be asked to address the following questions and participate in a discussion:

  • Why are you (or did you) decide to run for office?
    • Do you believe that your gender impacted your campaign in any manner?
  • Why is it important that young women vote?
  • Other than voting, how can young people best get involved in the political process?

The event will be scheduled the spring of 2018 at a school whose administration is open to hosting it.  This event will also launch the League’s outreach plan for local high schools focusing especially on voter registration.