Common Cause Ohio and Fair Districts have provided excellent explanations on the redistricting process and where Ohio is at – for the moment. It is very complicated, confusing and going to be very expensive by the time Ohioans have the opportunity to hold a primary. This is wasteful – potentially costing Ohioans up to $20 million, very confusing and unnecessary. This entire fiasco is due to the the GOP Redistricting Commission members repeatedly drawing unconstitutional maps and and the state legislators refusing to move the primary date.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission met Tuesday morning, 3.22.2022, to discuss how to proceed with the redrawing of the state legislative maps. They agreed on a schedule for the week’s meeting and agreed to use the mediation services of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Commission agreed to use independent mappers – Republican members chose Douglas Johnson and Democratic members chose Michael McDonald – who were scheduled to arrive in Ohio today. These mappers plan to attend the Commission meetings. Johnson recently had his testimony in North Carolina thrown out by a three-judge panel because he misrepresented the source of the maps he used and his inaccurate calculations that he admitted during cross examination in the gerrymandering case of North Carolina. Johnson seems to be the GOP go-to guy for ‘expert’ testimony in redistricting cases.
General Assembly Map Updates:
The third set of Ohio House and Senate maps were struck down by the Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday, 3.16.2022. The Court instructed the Commission to use an independent map drawer and work in a public, transparent manner. The Commission has until Monday, 3.28.2022 to complete a new set of state legislative maps. The Commission hearings scheduled this week are an attempt to comply with the Court’s order.
Congressional Map Update:
On Friday, 3.18.2022, the Ohio Supreme Court issued a decision denying the petitioners’ attempt to invalidate the second congressional redistricting plan as procedurally improper. The Court explained that after the first congressional map was struck down, it did not retain jurisdiction over the map-drawing process. Therefore, an entirely new and separate complaint would have to be submitted against the second map. On Monday evening, the National Redistricting Action Fund filed a new lawsuit challenging the second congressional map. The respondents had until 4pm Tuesday, 3.22.2022 to file a response. The fact that this lawsuit has been filed brings into question whether the congressional races can be included in a May 3rd primary. No hearing has been set nor a decision has been made to date.
Federal Lawsuit Update:
On Friday, 3.18.2022, a panel of three judges – Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio appointed himself along with Amul R. Thapar, Circuit Judge of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and Benjamin J. Beaton, District Judge of the Western District of Kentucky – were appointed to proceed with the federal case that was originally filed back on February 18, 2022, looking into the process of how the General Assembly maps are being drawn and to use the maps proposed by the GOP members of the Commission on February 24, 2022 – these maps were rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court. No hearing date has yet been set.
Ohio’s Primary Election:
After the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the third set of legislative maps, Secretary of State Frank LaRose conceded that it was no longer possible to hold one unified primary on May 3rd. However, neither the General Assembly nor the Court has agreed to move the primary back in order to avoid a split primary. At the moment, LaRose is proceeding on the assumption that there will be two primaries:
- One on May 3 with Statewide, congressional and local races
- One at an as-of-yet-undetermined date with Ohio House and Senate races
Again, this is wasteful – potentially costing Ohioans up to $20 million, confusing and unnecessary. The only reason the GOP doesn’t want to move the primary is to force the use of a bad congressional map and blame the Ohio Supreme Court for the chaos, expense and harm that they – the GOP Commission members have caused by repeatedly drawing unconstitutional maps and and the state legislators refusing to move the primary date. Meanwhile, Democrats House Leader Russo and Senator Sykes appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court to push the primary back to Tuesday, June 28, 2022, or later. The Court gave the Commission until Wednesday, 3.23.2022, at 9am to respond. Waiting on the court’s decision.