Ohio redistricting maps canceled for third time

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Supreme Court has struck down redistricting maps proposed by the state of the Ohio Statehouse for the third time, jeopardizing the May 3 primary election.

In a decision released Wednesday, the state Redistricting Commission was ordered to propose a fourth plan for the state’s Senate and House of Representatives districts.

In its decision, the court gave the commission until 9 a.m. on March 29 to submit a plan, with the plan to be on the desk of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose by March 28. .

The court also ordered the commission to hold “frequent” public meetings to “demonstrate their bipartisan efforts to arrive at a constitutional plan” before the deadline.

This latest set of cards was approved by a 4-3 vote on February 24 and almost immediately opposed by voting rights advocates. The current court ruling lists the Ohio League of Women Voters and the Ohio Organizing Collaborative as petitioners.

The discarded maps created 54 likely Republican seats in the Ohio House, 26 likely Democratic seats, and 19 competitive seats; in the Senate, the split was 18 likely Republicans, eight likely Democrats, and seven competitive.

According to state data, Ohio’s political split is 54% Republican, 46% Democrat.

“Substantial and compelling evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the primary purpose of those who drafted the Revised Second Plan was to favor the Republican Party and disadvantage the Democratic Party,” the court wrote in its decision.

The court ruling further states that Senate Speaker Matt Huffman told the media that he and House Speaker Bob Cupp had been working on the latest plan since February 11 – a fact that has not been disclosed. to the other members of the committee only at its meeting of 22 February.

“Democratic members of the committee did not have an opportunity to contribute to the creation of the second revised plan, and they did not have an opportunity to review and discuss it or to propose amendments once time it was presented at the commission hearing on February 22, 2022,” the court wrote.

Click here to read the court’s decision.

The court’s decision will likely delay the May 3 primary election, as military and overseas voting is expected to begin in two days.

In the court’s dissenting opinion, Justices Sharon L. Kennedy and Pat DeWine wrote that the court had “moved the goalposts” by imposing requirements on the commission that were not in the Ohio constitution, accusing the other five judges of trying to commandeer the redistricting. to treat.

By its actions today, the majority is undermining the democratic process, depriving voters of the constitutional amendment they enacted and leaving in its place only the political preferences of the majority,” the dissenting opinion states. “In doing so, he threatens the very legitimacy of this tribunal.”

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