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Ohio Redistricting Commission goes back to the drawing board after a third court rejection

Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio Redistricting Commission holds hearings on proposed congressional district maps from the public on February 23, 2022.

The commission met Saturday to walk through what the mapmaking process should look like in order to adopt House and Senate district maps that are deemed constitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has approved the first stages of a plan to have Republican and Democratic mapmakers work together to draft the commission's fourth attempt at state legislative district maps.

The plan calls for the mapmakers already working for the Republican and Democratic caucuses to create new House and Senate district maps. The commission also plans on hiring independent mapmakers and a mediator to join the process.

"We're going to take, hopefully a little different approach to see if it works but I think it remains to be seen as to how well it all goes. We're hoping for the best," says House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), co-chair of the commission.

Starting with their first round of maps in September, the Ohio Redistricting Commission has been drafting maps through the Republican and Democratic legislative caucuses. Those mapmakers draw their districts and propose those plans to the commission.

Each map adopted by the commission has been a Republican-drawn plan.

On Friday, Attorney General Dave Yost (R-Ohio) wrote a memo to the redistricting commission saying he has retained a bipartisan mapmaking team that can create a state legislative district plan.

"Their charge should be simply to produce a map that complies with the Ohio Constitution and the orders of the Ohio Supreme Court. They understand the time limits of the court, the terms of the Constitution and the decisions regarding it and are prepared to go to work immediately," Yost wrote.

That teams includes Sean Trende, a Republican analyst for Real Clear Politics, and Bernie Grofman, a Democratic professor of political science at the University of California-Irvine.

The commission has not yet decided which independent mapmakers will join the current legislative caucus mapmakers.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said the commission should require the drafting process to be more transparent by finding a way to make those meetings accessible to the public.

The redistricting commission spent most of the Saturday meeting brainstorming what process should be used moving forward. The members agreed that everyone taking part in making the maps will have to follow the state constitution and the three previous supreme court orders.

The commission scheduled a possible meeting on Sunday to approve a team of independent mapmakers and a mediator to join the existing staff members.

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