It’s an idea that had been brewing in Columbus for a long time. It had been floated even as far back as the late 1970s, when I was chairman of the Franklinton Area Commission and co-director of the Neighborhood Advocacy Project, housed at the Columbus Landmarks Foundation in the LeVeque Tower and funded by the Columbus Junior League through the help of Citizen Journal columnist Larrilyn Edwards, who championed it from the outset.
On Tuesday, that idea’s time finally arrived. But after the polls closed today, that idea—to shift from seven council seats voted on by all Columbus voters to 13 and maybe as many as 25 seats over time elected by district voters who couldn’t recall the official once elected—was shot down by a lopsided majority in a low turnout election.
According to the latest information from the Franklin County Board of Elections, 49,056 out of 529,695 registered voters—9.26 percent—bothered to weigh-in on is issue that’s been brewed off and on for decades. An unofficial tally by the FCBOE had 72 percent voting no [to not change from the current setup] 35 percent who wanted to make the change. There were zero over votes and 122 under votes.
Issue 1 on the special election ballot today was a propose amendment to the Columbus City Charter that would create city council districts, provide for the election of council members from districts and change the number of council members At Large to three. Among the 32 parts in it was the creation of new governmental body called “the apportionment committee” and a new system of up to twenty-five council seats with members elected from no fewer than four and up to twenty-two council wards and three members elected by all city voters.
Plunderbund has reported on this special ballot issue before, the latest one revealing the players driving it. Unable to field a winning council candidate going back decades, the proposed charter amendment was an attempt to pick the lock Democrats have held on Columbus for a long time.
Republicans generally strive for low turnout elections as a strategy to help their candidate win in Democrat-heavy areas like Columbus. It’s unclear whether a higher turnout would have made the numbers better or made them worse as more voters decided to keep council structured as it is, since Columbus has thrived under the current system.