Ohio Redistricting Commission unanimously approves 6th version of House and Senate maps
The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new legislative maps late last night, hours after recessing to private negotiations. Last year, discussions dragged on for months, and the maps were ultimately ruled unconstitutional by the state's supreme court, although a federal panel authorized their use in that November's election.
The latest versions of the district maps introduced last week were further modified during Tuesday night's closed door discussions, and were not available to the public before the vote. They give Republicans a 61-38 seat advantage in the Ohio House, with three Republican- and eight Democratic-leaning districts, and a 23-10 seat advantage in the Ohio Senate, with three Republican and one Democratic tossup seats.
The maps were approved unanimously by the seven-member Commission. Co-chair Auditor Keith Faber said the negotiation process worked differently - and better - than in the past.
"I think this map meets the constitutional test. It certainly does what we indicated should be done. It allows people to be represented by people who share their views and values. And it keeps communities together, certainly where possible.”
While the two Democrats on the Ohio Redistricting Commission joined the five Republicans in voting for the maps, they weren’t happy about it. House Minority Leader Allison Russo called the process "a sham". After months of inaction, the Commission held three public meetings mid-day at state parks, including two meetings on a major Jewish holiday. Tuesday's public meeting at the statehouse gaveled to a close in the early afternoon.
Co-chair Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) says - the redistricting process needs to change.
“One of the things that has been made clear to me through the cycle of redistricting is that this process does not belong in our hands. Rather the people should be choosing their representatives. Unfortunately, right now, it is the other way around."
The deadline to approve the maps is October 23. Because they were approved unanimously, they will remain in effect until after the next census, in 2030. While they could face a legal challenge, the current Supreme Court is unlikely to rule against this sixth version of the maps.
Critics of the current process are working to draft and amendment to the state constitution for next year's ballot, that would take the redistricting process out of the hands of current or former politicians and lobbyists, and put a 15-member citizen panel in charge.