WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, the Republican-dominated Ohio Legislature approved a new congressional map despite protests from fair maps advocates that it is a partisan gerrymander. The map now heads to the desk of Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who is likely to sign it into law.
In 2015 and 2018, Ohio voters approved amendments to reform the state’s redistricting processes, creating a commission composed of seven members — the governor, secretary of state, auditor and two members appointed by each party in the Legislature. In September, the Republican-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission approved state legislative maps that would maintain GOP supermajorities in both state house chambers. Since that vote was not bipartisan, these maps are only enacted for four years. Several lawsuits have already been filed against the legislative maps for being partisan gerrymanders. For congressional districts, the Ohio General Assembly has the first opportunity to draw a map that gains bipartisan support. After failing to reach bipartisan compromise, the responsibility fell to the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The Commission failed to create a plan by the Oct. 31 deadline, giving the General Assembly another opportunity to pass maps, this time by a simple majority.
The approved map’s breakdown gives Republicans at least 12 of the delegation’s 15 congressional seats. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee called out this unfair skew, one that “gives Republicans 80% of the seats despite them only earning 54% of the statewide vote in the last decade.” In contrast, Democratic lawmakers have proposed maps that would favor Republicans 8-7 or 9-6. The map passed on party-line votes and will only be enacted for four years, which is likely enough time for Republicans to further cement their control come 2025.