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Democrats urge GOP redistricting officials to meet and approve constitutional maps

Chris Glassburn, mapmaker for Democratic commissioners, explains changes to proposed House and Senate maps.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Chris Glassburn, mapmaker for Democratic commissioners, explains changes to proposed House and Senate maps.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has less than a week to meet a court-ordered deadline to draw new state House and Senate district maps.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), co-chair of the commission, has yet to call for a meeting to adopt new legislative district maps after the second attempt at a plan was ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Democrats on that panel say they have a proposed compromise that can meet the constitutional requirements before the deadline.

Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), House minority caucus leader, says they've made revisions to their House and Senate district map that still gives the GOP a majority in both chambers but matches Ohio's proportion of Republican and Democratic voters.

"Let me be perfectly clear. We can adopt fair constitutional maps and we can hold a primary on May 3. We just need to work together to finish this job," says Russo.

She chides Republican leaders who were warned the maps they approved in the past would be found unconstitutional.

"They have purposely delayed work on these maps at each stage along the way, waiting until virtually the very last minute of each deadline before finally acting in a clear attempt to run out the clock," says Russo.

The responsibility is now on Cupp to call for a commission meeting with Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), Cupp's co-chair, already expressing an urgency to meet as soon as possible.

Aaron Mulvey, spokesperson for Cupp and House Republicans says in a statement, "We have not yet completed a thorough analysis of the map presented by the Democrats today. However, upon cursory review, it seems pretty clear that the map does not meet the requirements of the Constitution or the standard set forth by the Ohio Supreme Court. The schedule for the redistricting commission is still to be determined."

The supreme court gave the redistricting commission until Thursday to come up with a new plan after ruling another round of maps approved by Republican commissioners unconstitutional.

Russo says if the GOP refuses to move, the court has options to hold those leaders accountable but stopped short of what she'd like the court to do.

Meanwhile, a coalition of community groups known as Fair Districts Ohio, also released a statement Friday calling on the commission to adopt their proposed plan.

"Fair Districts Ohio believes both of these tasks can be completed on schedule, and in a way that upholds the Ohio Constitution, satisfies the expectations outlined in the Ohio Supreme Court rulings, is fully transparent, and prevents delays for the upcoming primary election," the group wrote.

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