Ohio Redistricting Commission adopts GOP-drawn working maps for House, Senate districts
After delaying meetings for a week while Republicans fought over leadership of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the panel met and adopted working maps that favored majority Republicans.
Though a Republican co-chair was finally selected in Auditor Keith Faber, the meeting had a rocky start. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine had to sit in remotely after testing positive for COVID, and Republican and Democratic commissioners couldn’t agree on the rules the panel would follow going forward. But the group moved on to set three hearings, and then to adopt maps for the public to weigh in on.
Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) put forward maps that are thought to give Republicans a 23-10 edge in the Senate and 62-37 advantage in the House.
House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) took issue with those numbers, saying they don’t represent the partisan split among Ohio voters. But majority Republicans on the panel voted to adopt the GOP-drawn maps as the set they'll work from to develop the final maps.
There are questions about the data used to create these maps. Faber said there is data available and the panel will be using it as they come up with final maps.
“I think the election data is available. Mike DeWine got over 60% of the vote. And the other numbers that are included in there as well were all….. the numbers changed since the last maps that were drawn,” Faber said.
The panel's two Democrats introduced the maps they unveiled Tuesday. Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said the maps she and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) proposed gave Republicans a 56-43 edge in the House and a 19-14 advantage in the Senate.
Antonio said the panel should focus on fairness, not protecting incumbent lawmakers.
“There has to be fairness, which there does not exist, does not exist right now in the deeply gerrymandered maps that we’ve had,” Antonio said.
Russo said the maps proposed by Democrats meet the requirements
of the redistricting constitutional amendment passed by Ohio voters in 2018.
“We're not making this up as we go, and we shouldn't. This is not the first time we've done this. We've got a court orders, We've got prior things that we've done that direct this and many, many examples that show that you can, in fact, meet the technical requirements of the constitution and meet that proportional requirement as well,” Russo said.
Republicans said the working maps they adopted do a better job of keeping cities together.
“The constitution is very clear. It wants you to avoid. And as one of the drafters of the constitution, we were very clear, we wanted to avoid unnecessary city, county and township splits. If you're splitting a city for the purposes of partisan advantage for one side or the other to unpack or to crack, it is gerrymandering by definition. And so to the extent that we can avoid doing that, we ought to avoid doing that,” Faber said.
Quick set of public hearings
The commission will be holding three upcoming hearings in various parts of the state.
- Friday, Sept. 22 at Deer Creek State Park in Mt. Stearling, 10 a.m.
- Monday, Sept. 25 at Punderson State Park's Punderson Manor, 10 a.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 26 at the Ohio Statehouse, Senate Finance Hearing Room, 10 a.m.
The commission must finalize maps soon so legislative candidates can declare their intention to run in districts for the 2024 election. The filing deadline is Dec. 20, but candidates who have to move must have established residency in their new districts by no later than Nov. 20.