Confused about redistricting in Ohio?

Confused about redistricting in Ohio?

Then the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus and the Council for Public Deliberation have got a program for you.

It's titled "Redistricting Confusion," and is set for Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 8 p.m. in the meeting room of the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

It will feature a presentation from Ann Henkener, a League of Women Voters of Ohio board member and the designated redistricting specialist for the past five years.

"Just kind of bringing everybody up to date on where we are in all these machinations," Henkener, who resides in Clintonville, said last week. "I think that there's just been a lot of things going on in redistricting, even after we thought we had maps."

Backroom deals, followed by lawsuits, compromises and a threatened referendum all served to muddy the waters when it came to drawing the boundaries for Congressional and state legislative districts, according to Henkener.

"We can look at what the districts are that we think we have and what the implications are of those," she said.

The presenter will have large maps so people can determine in what districts they now fall and who their current and potential elected representatives might be.

Henkener also will discuss ways in which to improve the process of redrawing districts, which comes about every decade, following the U.S. Census.

"I think a lot of people have come to a conclusion this is not the best way to be doing this for Ohio," Henkener said.

Legislators have appointed a bipartisan commission to look into improving redistricting procedures, particularly to remove the partisanship that so often leads to disputes. That body is to make its report in June, and the League of Women Voters' redistricting specialist said her Feb. 7 talk will include an update on the progress being made.

"It's a lot to cover in an hour; I'm going to have to talk really fast," Henkener said.

It's no wonder there is confusion, she added, and even stronger emotions among voters.

"I think there's anger," Henkener said. "I think there's confusion. I think the more you know about the process, the more you get upset.

"I know I'm angry."

And she knows that for many people, the redistricting process as it's currently handled seems to take the interests of political parties into consideration but the "interests of the voters are really of no particular importance."

"The Council for Public Deliberation is founded on the belief that an active and engaged public is essential to a healthy community," according to the organization's website. "The members of the Council are dedicated to creating opportunities for people to engage in public conversation on civic issues. These conversations enable individuals to act as a public: that is, take responsibility for what is happening in the community, decide on the public interest, and act to create the kind of community they want."

"The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy," its website states. "The League is where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. Men and women of all parties and political persuasions come together within the League of Women Voters for civil discourse about our nation's and our community's most pressing issues. The League is strictly nonpartisan; we neither support nor oppose candidates for office at any level of government. At the same time, the League is wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy. We are the original grassroots citizen network, directed by the consensus of our members."