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First deadline approaches for Ohio lawmakers to redraw congressional maps

Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 6:27 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As possible legal challenges to Ohio’s new General Assembly maps wait in the wings, state lawmakers face a looming deadline to draw new congressional districts.

While the Ohio redistricting commission had the task of redrawing the state House and Senate maps, the full legislature has the first chance to come up with a new plan for the state’s congressional representatives.

The maps must be bipartisan to last for ten years. They have to have the support of 60% of the members from each chamber, including at least half of all Democrats and Republicans.

If a plan doesn’t meet those requirements by Sept. 30, the redistricting commission will get the chance to draw a map. It would need support from at least two of the commission’s five Republicans and both Democrats by Oct. 31. The legislature gets another shot at coming up with a plan if the efforts by the commission fail.

The legislature’s final deadline to approve a 10-year, bipartisan map, is Nov. 30. Republicans could develop a map that passes with a simple majority, but it would only last for four years. The plan couldn’t unduly favor or disfavor a political party or its incumbents.

It’s the first year this system is being put to the test after voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2018 that reformed Ohio’s congressional redistricting process.

But the same system, designed to cut down on gerrymandering and discourage partisan maps, produced boundaries for the General Assembly that preserve Republican supermajorities in both chambers. The Ohio Redistricting Commission passed the maps this week in a partisan 5-2 vote without support from either Democrat on the committee.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, said he voted in favor of the maps “with great unease.” He said he hoped the commission could’ve approved a bipartisan map that would’ve lasted for ten years.

He said he expects the commission to reconvene on Oct. 1 to draw the Congressional maps and doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

“I believe we’ll be back here soon,” LaRose said. “When we are, this process will be different. It is not going to work this way next time.”

Ohio will lose a representative in Congress due to the 2020 U.S. Census results and drop from 16 to 15 districts. Its current map is among the most gerrymandered in the U.S., according to an analysis by the Associated Press.

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