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Ohio's redistricting team working in a fish bowl setting to draft new maps

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Andy Chow
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Statehouse News Bureau
Ohio redistricting live stream of mapmakers drafting legislative districts, one stream of the room and another stream of the map software, provided by The Ohio Channel on March 24, 2022.

The bipartisan team of mapmakers are drawing new district lines for Ohio House and Ohio Senate maps in front of cameras airing a constant live stream.

Two independent mapmakers have started to draw new maps for state legislative districts in a process that looks vastly different from the previous attempts.

University of Florida Professor Michael McDonald and National Demographics Corporation President Douglas Johnson are only allowed to use one computer, purchased by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, to draw the maps.

The beginning stages of the process included getting the software up and running and making sure certain demographics were not included in the data they are using. The Ohio Redistricting Commission agreed that racial data cannot be loaded or utilized.

Watch: Independent mapmakers draft plans for Ohio Redistricting Commission

The computer must stay in one room and is under constant supervision. The mapmakers have access to the room from the early morning hours to late at night.

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The Ohio Channel
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Michael McDonald (left) and Douglas Johnson (right) work on drawing new state legislative districts. Only one computer can be used to draw the maps while other computers can be used for related purposes.

While they work, a live stream camera shows the room -- with a desk, computer, and monitors.

These are some of the strict rules the mapmaking team must follow in what's the fourth attempt by the redistricting commission to pass new state legislative district maps.

Another rule is that the independent map drawers are not allowed to discuss the map drawing process with "outside organizations, groups, or individuals during their engagement with the redistricting commission."

The commission has until March 28 to adopt new House and Senate district lines. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) has already directed local boards of elections to remove state legislative races from ballots.

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