Ohio Redistricting Commission Approves 4-Year Map Along Party Lines
Updated September 16, 2021 at 6:10 AM ET
The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new state House and Senate maps that are likely to guarantee a Republican supermajority for the next four years. The move comes after days of debates behind closed doors and even those who voted for the maps said they believe the plans will be challenged in court.
The commission approved the new maps by a vote of five to two, with the two Democrats on the panel voting against, early Thursday just a minute after the deadline set by the Ohio constitution.
The maps likely split 62 Republican seats and 37 Democratic seats in the House and 23 Republican seats to 10 Democratic seats in the Senate.
House Democratic Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said these maps are gerrymandered.
"The maps adopted today go to absurd length to create a Republican monopoly on legislative power that they have not earned at the ballot box."
Statewide Republican leaders on the commission voiced their disappointment in the panel not reaching a compromise.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said the commission could've come up with a map that is more clearly constitutional.
"The parties are not that far apart, they think they are but they're not. Tonight it has become clear to me that there is not going to be a compromise," the governor said.
Groups are expected to file a legal challenge in the Ohio Supreme Court, the Fair Districts Coalition. The group released a statement shortly after the vote expressing their dissatisfaction with the new maps.
"Ohioans got more of the same: a breakdown in the bipartisan process and maps that serve the short-sighted interests of political parties, not voters," the statement read.
After working throughout the day on a compromise, Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) presented new maps about which he said would reduce the number of Republican seats collectively in both houses by six seats.
A national expert's analysis found the first draft of maps, which were drawn by Republican lawmakers and released last week, would allow the GOP to maintain its supermajority on both sides of the legislature with a 67-32 Republican advantage in the House and a 25-8 Republican advantage in the Senate.
Democrats had proposed their own set of maps that would have leaned towards 57 Republican seats and 42 Democratic seats in the House and 20 Republican seats and 13 Democratic seats in the Senate.
Chances Ohio will get new 10-year maps of state legislative districts by a midnight Wednesday deadline appear to be slim.
The state’s powerful new redistricting panel is on an hours-long recess. Andy Chow of Ohio Public Radio reports that the commission is slated to return from recess at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. They were slated to reconvene at 3 p.m. but did not do so.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s pause comes as Republicans and Democrats appeared stalled on any plan both parties can agree upon. Without the votes of both the panel’s Democratic members, any district boundaries the seven-member panel approves can only last four years.
If two Democratic members would agree to the maps, they would be place for the standard 10 years.
State Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), the panel’s co-chair, said his hopes for a compromise are waning.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said he is “always an optimistic person.”