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Ohio Supreme Court rejects 4th set of legislative maps

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 2:02 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ohio Supreme Court rejected yet another round of state legislative maps in a 4-3 decision on Thursday.

It’s the fourth time the court ruled the statehouse maps approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission unconstitutional.

Mapmakers will need to return to the drawing board to create fair legislative districts. The court ordered the commission to file a new set of maps with the Secretary of State and the court by May 6. Those looking to file an objections will need to do so three days after the new plan is filed with the court.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose has previously said that new maps have to be finalized by April 20th to include state legislative candidates on the ballot for an August 2nd primary election.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved the fourth set of maps on March 28. Those maps were based off the third sets of maps previously deemed unconstitutional by the court, with some minor changes, instead of using the maps drawn by independent mapmakers. Republicans on the commission approved the plan with the exception of Auditor Keith Faber, who sided with the Democrats on the commission in voting against the maps.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose released a statement Thursday responding to the court’s ruling. The statement in its entirety reads:

“Ohioans should continue to cast their ballots on or before May 3 to ensure their voices are heard in this important primary election,” said LaRose. “The court’s latest ruling has no impact on that election at all, and contests for statewide, congressional, and local offices and issues will proceed as scheduled. This ruling only impacts state legislative and political party central committee contests, which have yet to be scheduled.”

Additionally, the majority opinion stated the following:

“It is unclear as to why August 2, 2022, is the last available date for a primary election in Ohio. We note that several states will have primary elections on August 16, 2022, or later, including four states that will have their primary elections in September.”

This statement by the Democratic members of the court and the Chief Justice indicates a shocking and clear ignorance of Ohio law. Despite having a former Secretary of State on their panel, the majority did not consider the fact that each state’s election system is unique, or that Ohio’s elections have their own statutory requirements, and because of these requirements it would require a violation of Ohio law for any primary to be held after August 2. In fact, the filing deadline for nominating petitions for nonpartisan races in the General Election, as set in Ohio law, is August 8, 2022. To be clear, any primary held after August 2 would directly conflict with the statutorily required deadlines of the General Election.

Additionally, the majority on the court fails to contemplate that Ohio law also allows for special elections to take place on August 2, and several counties are expected to conduct a special election to consider local issues. These elections include their own statutorily required deadlines, from early voting periods beginning four weeks before election day to the completion of the official canvass 21 days after Election Day. Requiring a different primary election to take place on a date within the August 2 election window would not only cause significant voter confusion, but it also wouldn't be physically possible without each impacted county board of elections doubling their staff and each piece of election infrastructure.

“The part I find most alarming about this ruling is the flagrant disregard for the critical timing and deadlines of Ohio’s elections process,” said LaRose. “Despite having the first-hand knowledge of a former chief elections officer on its bench, the court’s majority ignores and, in fact, attempts to rewrite the key requirements of election administration literally spelled out in the law. We will reinforce those statutory timelines to the federal court and hope that constitutional convictions prevail.”

Frank LaRose

You can read the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in its entirety below.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved yet another set of statehouse maps in a 4-3 vote on...
The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved yet another set of statehouse maps in a 4-3 vote on Monday, March 28, just ahead of a midnight deadline.(wtvg)

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