MOUNT VERNON — “Voters First” advocate Ann Henkener, Redistricting Specialist for the League of Women Voters of Ohio, was the speaker at the Knox County Democratic Women’s meeting Monday night. She explained the “Voters First” initiative that proposes “to take the power over drawing our congressional and legislative districts out of the hands of the politicians and put it in the hands of the people.”
Henkener received her bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, and her Juris Doctorate from Capital University Law School. Her professional experience includes serving for eight years as in-house counsel for a nonprofit health care organization in Columbus and spending over 20 years as an assistant attorney general, representing the state of Ohio in regulating health care, and regulating public utilities.
Every 10 years congressional and legislative districts are redrawn according the census results of a state’s population. The 2010 Census revealed that Ohio’s share of the national population is smaller so the state’s congressional district map had to be redrawn to reduce the number of districts from 18 to 16.
By law, the process is done with the approval of the Ohio House, the Ohio Senate and the governor.
The Republican Party happened to control the governor’s office and had the majority in both chambers of the Statehouse. The redistricting process created districts that favor the interests of Republicans, Henkener said.
She described Ohio as a state almost equitably divided between Republicans and Democrats. But when redistricting results in a 12-4 split with the Republicans coming up with 75 percent of the representation, “That’s manipulation,” she said.