Failing to adopt new maps, Ohio Redistricting Commission resubmits unconstitutional plan
The Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to adopt new state legislative district maps Thursday evening and instead opted to resubmit a set of maps already invalidated by the Ohio Supreme Court.
Democratic members of the commission made a motion to accept a new draft of maps. House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said the proposed maps were modified versions of the drafts submitted by mapmakers hired by the commission in March, Douglas Johnson and Michael McDonald.
That motion was rejected by a party-line vote of 5-2. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, made the argument that new maps would make it impossible for election officials to meet certain deadlines for an August 2 primary.
A way around that challenge would be for the state legislature to pass emergency legislation to shift those deadlines. But commissioners said the House and Senate did not express an interest to do so.
LaRose said the only way for elections officials to meet those deadlines would be to implement what's known as Map 3. Those maps were adopted by the commission on February 24 and rejected by the supreme court on March 16.
Map 3 created 54 Republican and 45 Democratic House seats along with 18 Republican and 15 Democratic Senate seats. However, 16 of the 45 Democratic House seats and six of the 15 Democratic Senate seats are within a 3% margin of competitiveness. The supreme court invalidated the maps for unduly favoring the GOP because a disproportionate amount of Democratic seats were toss-up districts.
The commission approved the motion to resubmit Map 3 by a vote of 4-3.
Gov. Mike DeWine, Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township), Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), and LaRose, all Republicans, voted for Map 3. Auditor Keith Faber was the only Republican to join the two Democratic members, Russo and Sen. Vernon Sykes, in voting against the maps.
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Russo said the state could still hold an August 2 primary and meet deadlines. She added that the main priority of the commission was to adopt new, constitutional maps.
"This is a clear slap in the face to Ohio voters and the rule of law," Russo said, after the commission refused to adopt a new set of maps.
Map 3 will be resubmitted to the Ohio Supreme Court on May 6. If Ohio does not have new maps in place by May 28, a federal court has already ruled it will implement Map 3.