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Voter Rights Groups Say Ohio Redistricting Commission Must Get To Work On Congressional Map

 Voter rights groups gather in downtown Columbus to call on the Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw a "fair" Congressional map.
Andy Chow
Ohio Public Radio
Voter rights groups gather in downtown Columbus to call on the Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw a "fair" Congressional map.

Advocates for fair legislative districts are calling for state officials to gather for a meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission in order to pass a new Congressional map.

The groups gathered to demonstrate outside the Ohio Statehouse and the Riffe Center, the location of House Speaker Bob Cupp's (R-Lima) office. They said Cupp, who is co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, must convene the panel of officials and approve a new Congressional district map.

"It's just distressing to have to work hard to encourage an elected official to do what they're required to do in the constitution," said Mia Lewis, Common Cause Ohio associate director.

Members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission are facing lawsuits over the maps they just drew for the Ohio House and Senate. The five Republican officials on the commission have been named in those three lawsuits, and were court-ordered to be available for deposition.

John Fortney, spokesperson for the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus, said those lawsuits have "distracted and undermined" the work of the commission.

"The special interests only have themselves to blame for blowing up the schedule," Fortney said.

While redrawing the Ohio House and Ohio Senate maps, the Ohio Redistricting Commission missed two deadlines that were set in the constitution by a voter-approved ballot issue in 2015.

So far in the process to draw a new Congressional map, the Ohio General Assembly missed the first deadline to approve a plan by the end of September. Now, the Ohio Redistricting Commission has a shot at drawing the state's 15 Congressional districts.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has until the end of October to approve a new map or it goes back to the Ohio General Assembly for another attempt.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.