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Opponents to GOP-drawn maps consider next moves as federal redistricting intervention looms

Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma), outside of the Ohio Judicial Center, discusses filing criminal complaints against Republican redistricting commissioners.
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma), outside of the Ohio Judicial Center, discusses filing criminal complaints against Republican redistricting commissioners.

There is an array of activity among the groups fighting against unconstitutional, Republican-drawn state legislative district maps which are set to go into effect — by federal intervention — on Saturday.

Since the Ohio Supreme Court rejected the fifth round of proposed maps from the Ohio Redistricting Commission, a federal court ruling to implement unconstitutional maps is set to go forward by a May 28 deadline.

But a coalition of community organizations is calling on the federal court to back up the supreme court’s ruling which gives the redistricting commission until June 3 to adopt a sixth attempt at House and Senate district maps.

“I think it’s best solved at the supreme court. I believe that they gave rulings that are in line with the state constitution and I think that the state should be the one to handle this issue,” said Jeniece Brock, Ohio Organizing Collaborative policy and advocacy director.

The Ohio Organizing Collaborative and other voting rights organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, are also considering the possibility of changing the redistricting laws to make it an independent process. This was a suggestion made by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, in several rulings.

While those groups consider their options, Rep. Jeff Crossman (D-Parma) has filed criminal complaints against the Republican members of the redistricting commission.

“They’ve basically created a constitutional crisis here by ignoring the will of the voters and ignoring the directive of the supreme court,” said Crossman, who’s running for Ohio attorney general.

The criminal complaints filed by Crossman include counts of dereliction of duty and interference with civil rights. He said this is a move to hold elected officials accountable after the supreme court decided not to continue with contempt of court hearings.

“The Republican redistricting commissioners have showed nothing but contempt, nothing but contempt, for the process, for the voters, and for the constitution,” said Crossman.

Crossman included Auditor Keith Faber, a Republican, in the complaints. Faber did not vote for the last three sets of maps.

Spokespeople for the Republican redistricting commissioners slammed Crossman’s complaints and dismissed the action as a political stunt.

The Ohio Republican Party pointed out that Crossman was notably present for some votes and absent for others on the House floor Wednesday. Crossman did not cast a vote on two controversial issues that could be on the statewide ballot; one that changes bail laws (HJR2) and another to ban non-citizens from voting in elections (HJR4).

“Political stunts like Crossman's frivolous complaint may be designed to boost his failing campaign, but it hardly makes up for neglecting his responsibilities as a state representative and lying about why he is missing votes,” said Dan Lusheck, Ohio Republican Party spokesman.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court five times and the court has invalidated their plan every time as unconstitutional. The most recent plan was a resubmission of maps already rejected in March.

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