Ohio Redistricting Commission unanimously adopts new House, Senate maps in late night meeting
The Ohio Redistricting Commission unanimously approved new legislative maps late Tuesday night.
It was after 10 p.m. when the seven members of the commission came back from an early afternoon recess to vote on new Ohio House and Senate maps.
The Republican members of the commission had approved GOP-drawn working maps last week, before three public hearings were held. The maps that were unanimously approved Tuesday will likely give a 61-38 advantage to Republicans in the House and a 23-10 GOP advantage in the Senate.
And while the two Democrats joined the five Republicans on the commission in voting for the final maps, they weren’t happy about it.
House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) minced no words, and said the current process is rigged before it even begins.
“If you feel like this process has been a sham as we have gone through the last week, it has," Russo said.
The Democratic Ohio Redistricting Committee co-chair Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said the new map is more fair than the Republican-approved version that has been under consideration during the past few days. She said it does provide a pathway for increased Democratic Senate seats. But she also blasted the process.
"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," Antonio said.
Republican Ohio Redistricting Commission co-chair Auditor Keith Faber praised the process this time around, saying it worked differently and better.
"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," Faber said.
The commission set another meeting for Friday to deal with any technical problems that might need to be corrected. Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, also a member of the commission, said the maps must be approved by Oct. 23 to make sure the March 2024 primary can proceed.
Since the maps were unanimously adopted, they can be used for eight years.
The Democrats are supportive of a citizen-led effort now underway to put before voters a constitutional amendment that would take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and instead allow an independent commission of community members to draw maps.
Republican former Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who joined the court’s three Democrats in ruling all the commission’s maps unconstitutional last year, is part of that group.
The language for petitions for that proposal from Citizens Not Politicians has been rejected twice by the attorney general. A third submission must be acted on by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost by Oct. 2.