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Rejection of state legislative maps stirs up questions about Ohio's primary

Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Voting machines

The state's May 3 primary, which was already running on a tight deadline, is once again in limbo now that the court has invalidated the state legislative district maps.

Ohio's top Republican elected officials are deciding what should happen next now that the court has rejected the latest state House and state Senate district map proposal.

Local elections officials were using those maps to draft ballots for voters around Ohio. But the Ohio Supreme Court ruled those maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to favor Republicans.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) said earlier this month that another map invalidation by the court would have a direct impact on the primary.

"At that point it is just not possible that those contests would end up on the May 3 primary. It is simply at that point 'the ship has sailed' I guess you could say," said LaRose.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said lawmakers would reconsider the possibility of postponing the May 3 primary if the court did not approve the state legislative maps, which were adopted on February 24.

Jen Miller, executive director for the League of Women Voters of Ohio, says the state should adopt "fair maps" then postpone the primary to a date that works best.

"Ohio needs to put democracy first. That means maps that are drawn for voters rather than partisan interests, and it means a well-functioning primary that is set far enough out that elections officials, candidates, and voters can participate in the way that they need to," says Miller.

Looming over the redistricting process and questions about the primary is a federal lawsuit filed by a group of Republican voters. They are asking a panel of three federal judges to review the situation in Ohio and to ultimately order the February 24 maps to be used in the May 3 primary.

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