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Ohio GOP Joins Democrats In Endorsing Congressional Redistricting Reform

M.L. Schultze

The Ohio Republican Party voted on Tuesday night to join its Democratic counterpart in endorsing a major overhaulof how Ohio’s congressional districts are drawn.

Issue 1, which was written by a bipartisan committee and approved by citizen groups, would create multiple rounds of map-making to prevent partisan gerrymandering. The proposal also sets limits for how many times a county can be split, keeping communities together.

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof acknowledged to the Ohio GOP central committee that the way the state divides its Congressional districts has been good to Republicans for decades. That’s because Republicans have controlled the state Legislature when it’s redrawn the map every 10 years.

But Obhof cautioned things are bound to change.

“We’re not always going to have the majorities we have now and I think that’s true for the Democrats as well,” Obhof said. “It’s not just for 2021, it’s also 2031, 2041, making sure we have the right process in place.”

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger also pointed to court challenges pending in other states over their Congressional maps – most recently in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court overturned and then redrew the map. And Rosenberger predicted a referendum that was heading to the November ballot in Ohio would have been worse for Republicans.

The citizens' groups backing that referendum, Fair Districts Fair Elections and the League of Women Voters, have agreed to put their effort on hold and endorse the May ballot issue.

Early voting begins April 10.