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House Speaker calls for redistricting meeting but it's unclear what happens next

Chris Glassburn, mapmaker for Democratic proposal, answering questions from Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) on the issue of compactness in certain districts.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Chris Glassburn, mapmaker for the Democratic proposal, answering questions from Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) on the issue of compactness in certain districts at a meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission on January 22, 2022.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) says the Ohio Redistricting Commission will meet on Thursday afternoon, leaving hours to spare before the court-ordered deadline to redraw maps.

The commission has been ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court to adopt new state House and Senate district maps that comply with the constitution by Thursday at midnight.

The court ruled the previous plans to be invalid, saying the maps did not follow the anti-gerrymandering requirements put in the constitution by voters in 2015.

Cupp announced late Tuesday that the commission will reconvene Thursday at 1:30pm. But he was not clear on what will happen next.

"We don't have an agenda yet. This is uncharted territory and we are trying to make our way through it," says Cupp.

When asked if Republicans plan to introduce a new set of district maps for Ohio's 99 House and 33 Senate seats, Cupp said he did not know.

"Obviously we know what our job is and what the expectations are and we're trying to find a way to accomplish those things," Cupp says.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) says it is concerning that the commission has taken so long to meet and says it suggests "intentional stalling."

"It is possible for us to achieve constitutional maps. It is possible for us to get this done before the deadline. There just has to be a willingness to do it," says Russo.

The latest round of state legislative district maps to be rejected by the court created 57 Republican and 42 Democratic districts in the House. In the Senate, those maps split 20 Republican to 13 Democratic seats.

The court ruled those maps do not reflect a proportional split of Ohio voter preference. On average, statewide election results over the last 10 years has seen about 54% of the vote go to a Republican candidate and 46% to a Democratic candidate.

Katy Shanahan is Ohio state director for All On The Line, an affiliate of National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Shanahan says the commission has the ability to take a different approach to make sure the maps are found constitutional this time around.

Shanahan says the commissioners, especially the three statewide elected officials, need to take a more proactive role in the mapmaking process, "And not act like they have no ability to influence this process and that they have no authority to speak publicly about what they think is necessary or to push their own colleagues to do better. And I hope that they do so."

The new state legislative district maps must be adopted by the end of Thursday and those maps must be delivered to the supreme court by Friday morning.

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