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Ohio Redistricting Commission passes maps already rejected as illegal by supreme court




DUBLIN, OH — MAY 03: A voter at the ballot maker machine during the Ohio primary election, May 3, 2022, at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center, Dublin, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes)

The Ohio Redistricting Commission on Thursday voted to resubmit maps to the Ohio Supreme Court that the court has already rejected as illegal and unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.

The commission passed its third map again, 4-3 along party lines, with the exception of Republican Auditor Keith Faber, who said he voted no for the same reasons he voted against the map originally, claiming favoritism for Democrats.

With a U.S. District Court promising to order the third set of maps to be put in place for the 2022 election, the commissioners saw fit to push those maps back into play, despite not one but two rejections by the state’s highest court.

Indicating the action that was forthcoming from the commission, Secretary of State Frank LaRose read a two-page statement he said explained the “logistical realities” of administering an Aug. 2 primary.

He said the third map is already programmed in county boards of elections systems, which was done at his order, and he said he “would not instruct the boards to deprogram Map 3 before May 28, risking that the new map could be invalidated with no immediate options to administer a primary election.”

“Therefore, Map 3 is the only viable option to effectively administer a primary election on Aug. 2, 2022,” LaRose told the commission on Thursday.

In pushing for passage of the maps, state Sen. Rob McColley, sitting in place of Senate President Matt Huffman, said these maps would be “only for use in the 2022 election.”

The constitutional amendment overhauling redistricting processes in the state spelled out the commission’s ability to pass partisan four-year maps or bipartisan 10-year maps. It does not specify a two-year map option.

The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the maps on March 16 for the same reason they rejected all other maps: partisan favoritism.

“Substantial and compelling evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the main goal of the individuals who drafted the second revised plan was to favor the Republican Party and disfavor the Democratic Party,” the majority wrote in their opinion on those maps.

The Democratic members of the commission, seemingly building up arguments against being held in contempt by the Ohio Supreme Court, introduced changes to a proposed map drawn by independent mapmakers in late March. That map had previously been dismissed by Republican members of the commission who claimed it unduly favored Democrats and didn’t address all the constitutional and court-ordered changes required of new state House and Senate maps.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo brought up the maps, as she did in a letter earlier Thursday, asking for proposed amendments to the map by Thursday afternoon.

“As with any house built, inspection usually reveals a punch list of little fixes needed to make everything just right,” Russo wrote in her letter to the other commissioners. “The same is true with any set of maps.”

She told the commissioners those items had been identified and addressed prior to Thursday night’s meeting.

But Republican commissioners were quick to express their dissatisfaction with these maps, even as revised.

McColley referenced an affidavit by independent mapmaker Dr. Douglas Johnson, saying Johnson acknowledge that maps were not done when he and Dr. Michael McDonald left their posts on March 28, having had their plan dismissed by the commission.

Russo pushed back on the assertion, saying the maps were finished, but were only “double-checked” after completion.

“To be clear, this map is finished,” Russo said.

The maps now go to the Ohio Supreme Court for consideration and court challenges, which seem likely.

This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.

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