Why Change? Our Council Electoral System is Broken.

Despite the denials of those in power, our current system for electing members of our city council works for the elite, but is broken for everyday people.  All of our council members are elected in citywide elections -- which are prohibitively expensive for nonincumbents, making our city council members almost untouchable.  As Americans, we believe the competition makes us better: we like competition in business, in sports ... everywhere but in political life -- and it is political life that is most dysfunctional troubling these days. The reason we don't get competition in politics is because politicians write the rules -- and they write them to favor themselves.  That is why we have the scourge of gerrymandering creating hyper-partisan gridlock ... it is why locally we have council members who are assured to hold office as long as they want, because once in office the system is stacked to make them almost unremovable.  In what ways? -- consider that it takes a prospective candidate 1,000 petition signatures collected in the dead of winter to even get on the ballot.  It only takes 75 signatures to run for the Ohio House ofRepresentatives or the Ohio Senate, and it takes 11,000 to run for Governor of the state of Ohio. So why should it take 1,000 to run for Columbus City Council? -- this is kept in place simply to make it harder to run for office.  Further, getting 1,000 signatures is so difficult that both the Republican and Democratic Parties endorse candidates prior to the deadline for filing those petitions -- even before the primary election where party faithful are supposed to be able to weigh in.  In fact, the parties endorse their incumbents, which allows them to use party resources to collect those signatures -- party resources which then can not  be used to help challengers.  So party bosses pick who appears on the ballot, and because of that, since 1972 we have only had city council primaries in 42% of our elections, because it is not in the incumbents' best interests to have to compete.  But we should all agree that political competition keeps politicians honest and accountable, and is thus good for everyday citizens. When we don't have competiti0n, what kind of democracy do we have?

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What About Our Elections?

Did you know that only 1 of the current city council members gained her seat by election?  That the rest have been appointed prior to standing for election and then run as incumbents?  That only 4 of the last 32 council members have initially been elected? -- the rest appointed by party insiders?

We are going to fix that by changing the charter provisions governing mid-term appointments.

Did you know that only 2 of  the current city council members received votes from a majority of voters at their election? Did you know that "none of the above" got 2.5x more votes than the leading vote-getter last election? -- that more than twice as many voters choose to not vote for another candidate on the ballot than vote for the leading vote-getter (2015 election)?  That only 4 of the most recent 12 city council members were selected by more than half the voters?

We are going to fix that by ending the at-large field elections for a majority of council members.

Did you know that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act recognizes the discriminatory effects of at-large voting, and prohibits this form of election when upon lawsuit a court finds evidence of racially-polarized voting?  That Columbus business and political elites have contrived a way to delay a finding of an unlawful electoral system by selecting council members for you, resulting in watered-down political representation for Columbus's federally-protected African American population?

We are going to fix that by moving to district-based elections, where there are two majority-minority (Black) districts, where Black voters can elect candidates without need for approval of those elected officials by the White majority.

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How Do We Make These Changes?

Our local elections are framed in our city's charter (which is the equivalent of a local constitution that sets the framework for our government).   Changes require a vote of the people of Columbus.  Citizens have a right to propose changes by putting an issue on the ballot.  To put an issue on the ballot, we must first collect petition signatures from 10% of the Columbus electorate -- approximately 19,000 people.

Everyday People Columbus has begun a petition signature gathering effort.  We will be out collecting signatures until we have enough. Once we do, the signatures are validated by the Franklin County Board of Elections and the City Council is required by the Ohio Constitution to put the issue on the ballot for a vote.

If we get signatures by early July, we will be on the November 2017 ballot.  If not, a special election will be called,  or we will be on the May 2018 primary ballot.

 

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We Stand For

  • Fair and Competitive Elections: Reduce the unearned benefits of political incumbency and level the playing field so that politicians must serve well in order to keep their jobs.
  • Get Corporate Money Out of Politics: Put caps on campaign contributions and restrict fundraising to election periods -- our council members should have no incentive to be 4 year whores trading money for political favors.
  • Accountability to the People: Making elections local where people actually know and can assess the performance of their elected representatives.
  • An Electoral System Designed to Serve Everyday People: Government should serve the people, not the other way around.
election birthright

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