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Ohio Senate approves new Congressional district map

Voter rights advocates scrutinize final map - CHOW.jpg
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Voting rights advocates scrutinize the congressional district map proposed by Republican lawmakers in November 2021.

The map, which goes from 16 districts to 15 and creates only two districts that strongly favor Democrats, now heads to the Ohio House.

A Republican-drawn Congressional district map is moving forward after the Senate approved the plan by a party-line vote.

Senate Republican leaders say their new Congressional map creates six districts that heavily favor Republicans, two that favor Democrats, and seven "competitive" seats.

Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) said that political breakdown might not mean much as he noted that elections can be unpredictable and the outcome can depend on the candidate.

"We should really be careful about drawing bright lines here and deciding that these bright lines are the end all be all arbiter of how these districts and these races are going to shake out, cause that's not how elections work," said McColley.

But voter rights groups fired back at the notion that those seven districts are competitive, with other analysts showing just three of those districts are within a 5% margin between Republican and Democratic voters.

According to "Dave's Redistricting," an analytical tool, the Congressional district map proposal creates five districts where Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters by more than 20%, and two districts where Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters by more than 10%.

There are six districts where the margin between registered Republicans and Democrats is below 10%. Of those districts, five lean in favor of Republicans.

There are only two districts in the Congressional map approved by the Ohio Senate that heavily favor Democrats. Those districts are in Franklin County and Cuyahoga County. The Cleveland-area Congressional district has a 78% to 19% split for Democrats. The Columbus-area Congressional district gives Democratic voters a 68% to 29% advantage over Republican voters.

Katy Shanahan, Ohio state director for "All On The Line", says Republican leaders failed to follow the anti-gerrymandering reforms passed by voters in 2018.

"Unfortunately, the Republicans have throughout the entirety of this process sent Ohioans a much different message. They don't care," said Shanahan, whose group is funded by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

The maps now head to the House for a potential floor vote later this week.

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