Editorial roundup


The (Canton) Repository, Jan. 29

Ahead of the November election, Ohio’s 16 congressional races were deemed noncompetitive and lopsided. One newspaper called them “a snoozefest.”

This was predictable, but it had less to do with those actually running and more to do with how their congressional districts were formed.

Drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011 with little assistance from minority Democrats, the new districts heavily favor the Republican party. Lines were drawn so districts included heavy concentrations of voters from one party or another. Twelve of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts give Republicans major advantages come election time…

Elections give voters power to hold lawmakers accountable. When advantages are built-in, voters lose that accountability. And they can be denied the open and honest debate about issues they care about most…

Groups advocating change are pushing ballot initiatives that would promise the same kinds of reforms that were made to state legislative redistricting that Ohioans approved in a landslide in 2015.

Ohioans have shown appetite for such changes – not because they’re good for one party or another, but because they’re best for democracy. We hope state lawmakers see it that way, too, and act to reform how congressional districts are drawn ahead of 2021.

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The Columbus Dispatch, Jan. 30

President Donald Trump, in back-to-back Tweets, said he will launch “a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD” – the capitalization is his – which he has blamed for rival Hillary Clinton besting him in the popular vote.

Islamic State is killing people. The economy is shaky. The national debt nears $20 trillion. But Trump plans to use the power of the presidency, in one of his first executive orders, to probe a widely disproven myth.

We say, have at it. Appoint an expert, bipartisan panel to investigate this allegation and settle it once and for all.

Past investigations have repeatedly failed to find proof of widespread voter fraud…

Voter fraud is hardly widespread, but Trump argues that some 3 million to 5 million illegally cast ballots explain how he could win the states to secure an Electoral College victory but lose to Clinton by more than 2.8 million in the popular vote…

If Trump wants to improve elections, Franklin County Board of Elections Director Ed Leonard has some suggestions: “Help the states upgrade voting equipment, buy or upgrade voter-registration software, and enhance their cyber-security efforts.”

…Trump’s review of election issues would be more productively focused on addressing changes in voter behavior, expectation, access and technology, because claims of voter fraud are fraudulent.

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The Youngstown Vindicator, Jan. 30

After a 3-year-long moratorium on capital punishment, will Ohio ever revive the practice of executing its most heinous cold-blooded murderers?

We and other proponents of keeping the death penalty as a viable punishment option in capital murder cases are beginning to wonder.

That’s because it’s been three years this month since Ohio began what was originally planned as a temporary delay in carrying out capital punishment. That came after the botched execution of Dennis McGuire, a Preble County man who raped, sodomized and murdered a 22-year-old pregnant woman in 1989.

McGuire, many will recall, endured a 26-minute cycle of repeated snorting, gurgling and gasping for air as the first death-row inmate in Ohio to be served a new lethal-drug cocktail.

In the intervening years, Ohio has struggled to find less painful methods and more easily available drugs for its lethal-injection executions. But just as a new three-drug mix used by other states was adopted and three long-delayed executions were rescheduled for the first few months of this year, along comes a federal judge to torpedo the plans…

The vast majority of Ohioans and Americans concur by supporting the death penalty for the most cruel and heartless killers. The state must respect that sentiment by working quickly to find a suitable execution solution…

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The (Toledo) Blade, Jan. 30

President Trump’s team has proposed eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, which will surely stir controversy. The arts are vital to civilization. But while we must have art, a federal endowment for art is debatable.

The problem is the government taking sides in art. Or even deciding what is art.

The NEA, which had $165 million in total funding in fiscal year 2015, supports the creation, exposure, and study of art. Art it deems worthy. Beneficiaries have included Alabama sacred music and a play in which climate change has driven the White House to Mount Rushmore…

No one would suggest that a nation give up art. Art helps us to understand ourselves and one another. It lifts and ennobles the human spirit.

Fortunately, we can have art without the federal government funding it. Americans pay for art all the time — at movie theaters and concert venues, and by buying it as posters.

And one of the most exciting features of the Internet age is crowdfunding. Patronage of the arts was once a privilege of the rich. But now, through websites such as Kickstarter and Patreon, nearly anyone can contribute toward art he finds important, without having to support art that offends him.

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