© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Voting Rights Groups: Ohio Should Start Redistricting Process Now

David Niven, a professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati holds a map demonstrating a gerrymandered Ohio district, Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo
/
Associated Press
David Niven, a professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati holds a map demonstrating a gerrymandered Ohio district, Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Cincinnati.

The U.S. Census Bureau won’t have official data ready for redistricting until this fall. But a coalition of voting rights groups are asking Gov. Mike DeWine to get the process started now to draw legislative and congressional district maps.

Because of the pandemic and other problems, the U.S. Census Bureau pushed back the release of redistricting data from March 31 to sometime in August or September.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio says DeWine can begin the redistricting process by picking lawmakers who will sit on the panel that approves the new maps, even if they can’t immediately start drawing the maps yet.

Common Cause’s Catherine Turcer is urging the state to come up with an online site where Ohioans can see the process in action and submit feedback.

“When there is an adjusted timeline, we could see some possibility of some shenanigans," Turcer says.

This year will be the first time the state will use new redistricting systems approved by voters in 2015 and 2018, which are intended to force bipartisanship into the map-drawing process. Republican lawmakers controlled the last redistricting effort in 2010, leading to GOP supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly and a three-to-one ratio of Republicans to Democrats in Ohio's congressional delegation.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued over the Census Bureau's delay, saying the new date was too late to meet the state's deadline for submitting new maps. However, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying that Ohio has other options to draw maps or extend its redistricting schedule. Yost appealed the ruling.

The voter groups say the 2022 primary should be rescheduled from May to June to give the redistricting panel more time.