COLUMBUS -- A big push to put a constitutional amendment on redistricting reform on the November ballot needs more than 130,000 more signatures.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that 254,625 valid signatures have been submitted. Ten percent of the total votes cast for governor in 2010 is needed. That's 385,243.
Petitioners also fell short of a requirement to collect at least five percent of ballots cast in 44 counties. The threshold was met in 34 counties.
The Voters First group has ten more days to make up the difference. Additional signatures must be in no later than Saturday, July 28.
Catherine Turcer, Chair of Voters First, said, "When the collection ends we are confident that in Novemebr the voters of Ohio will be able to put people first. We have continued to give voters the opportunity to tell politicians who use redistricting to protect themselves and their cronies that it's time for voters first; it's time for redistricting to be in the hands of a non-partisan, independent citizens commission."
Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said the group has inaccurately reported signature counts on petitions that were examined.
"It is continuously becoming ever clearer that the Voters First petition is based on fraud and deceit. ....It is important that the public be aware of this abuse of the ballot initiative system; we cannot allow dishonest special interests to hijack Ohio's redistricting process," he said.
Critics of the redistricting process want to remove it from partisan politics to get districts that are more balanced and competitive.
A largely Republican-designed redistricting plan now in place came under fire from Democrats and good government groups.