WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Sept. 20, during the Ohio Redistricting Commission’s (ORC) first meeting since it was reconstituted, the ORC voted 4-2 along party-lines to use legislative maps proposed by Republicans as the ORC’s working draft, which will be subject to public review.
The maps would maintain the Republican stranglehold on the Legislature, due to egregious partisan gerrymandering. The Republicans’ Senate proposal contains 23 Republican seats, compared to just 10 Democratic seats. The partisan discrepancy was no different in Republicans’ House map, which would contain 62 Republican districts and 37 Democratic districts. Currently, Democrats hold just 32 House seats and seven Senate seats, compared to 67 and 26 Republican seats, respectively.
The Ohio Supreme Court has struck down the Republican commissioners’ legislative maps five separate times for being partisan gerrymanders in favor of Republicans, but Republicans’ delay tactics forced Ohioans to vote under illegal maps in 2022.
Today’s vote took place during the ORC’s first meeting in over a year, after last week’s meeting was delayed because Republicans on the commission couldn’t agree on a co-chair. Prior to today’s meeting, Ohio Auditor of State Keith Faber (R) was finally announced as the Republican co-chair. Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie J. Antonio (D) was selected as the Democratic co-chair at the start of the meeting.
The GOP-backed proposals come a day after Democrats on the commission released their own legislative maps, which the ORC voted down today, also along party lines. Introduced by Antonio and Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D), the maps would have drastically leveled the playing field of the currently gerrymandered Legislature as Democrats would have held 43 House seats and 14 Senate seats, while Republicans would have held 56 and 19 seats, respectively.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) previously said that the commission should have maps approved by Sept. 22, but that timeline has been thrown into doubt after last week’s delays and the COVID-19 diagnosis of Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who also serves on the ORC. DeWine virtually tuned in to today’s meeting, but did not vote. Russo and Antonio have said that they don’t expect the process to be complete until mid-October.
Also on a party-line vote, the ORC scheduled three public meetings, which will all take place in the next week. Russo and Antonio, who voted against the adopted meeting schedule and the Republican-backed maps, argued that the timeline was rushed and that the locations were not spread out in a way that was conducive to all Ohioans.