WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Republican-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission approved state House and Senate maps shortly after the Commission’s 11:59pm constitutional deadline on Wednesday. To approve state legislative districts for the next 10 years, four of the seven members, including both Democrats, must vote in favor of the maps. Since the maps passed by a party-line vote, with both Democratic members in objection, they will only be in effect for four years. The approved maps would maintain the Republican supermajority in the Buckeye state with a projected 63% of state House and 70% of state Senate seats. The GOP majority justified the maps in a statement by examining the “statewide preferences of voters” and concluding that they predominantly favor Republicans. However, statewide and national races suggest that the breakdown of Republicans and Democrats in the swing state is much more balanced.
Gov. Mike DeWine (R) expressed dissatisfaction with both the redistricting process and product, and suggested that it will face legal challenges. If challenged all the way to the state Supreme Court, Republican-appointed Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has a history of opposing partisan gerrymandering. “I call it offensive and plain wrong to move forward this map after we heard hundreds of people come before us, hours of testimony in cities across this great state, and to put forth something that so arrogantly flies in the face of what people, our voters, asked to do,” said Commission member Rep. Emilia Sykes (D). In 2015 and 2018 constitutional amendments, the population voted overwhelmingly in favor of a more independent redistricting process.
The Commission faces a Sept. 30 deadline for approving the state’s congressional maps.