Do constitutional Ohio redistricting maps already exist? Maybe.
The Ohio Supreme Court has identified some maps that they think would be constitutional but redistricting leaders are not embracing them.
When the Ohio Supreme Court ruled legislative maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission unconstitutional earlier this year, the court mentioned maps drawn by a Stanford University political science professor as being a compliant and constitutional option for the commission to consider.
The ACLU of Ohio had included maps created by professor Jonathan Rodden in their lawsuit against the redistricting commission in September.
In its January ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court said the Rodden proposal was constitutional. ALCU of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson says there are a couple of reasons why.
“It meets all of the technical splitting rules and it corresponds closely to the preferences of the voters of Ohio,” Levenson says.
The Rodden maps favored Republicans in 57 of the 99 House districts and 18 of the 33 Senate districts. Ohio Redistricting Commission Member and Ohio Auditor Keith Faber (R-Ohio) suggested at yesterday's meeting that the panel take a second look at the Rodden maps and use them as a starting point for a new map. But last month, Faber had raised questions about its constitutionality.
"There were also constitutional violations in that map that were found as well," Faber said in the January 22 meeting.
In their response to the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday morning, Minority House Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) suggested the Ohio Supreme Court determine lawmakers start with their suggested maps and let the litigation process work it out from there.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) has stressed the need for the commission to adopt maps soon since military and overseas voting begins March 18 and ballots have to be printed and ready before then. At this point, candidates don't have numbers or boundary lines for the district seats they are seeking.
There’s no requirement for the commission to adopt the Rodden maps, but the court says maps must comply with statewide voting preferences, which amounts to 54% for Republicans and 46% for Democratic candidates over the past decade.