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Ohio Supreme Court rejects state's newly drawn district maps

A divided court ruled Wednesday that the Ohio Redistricting Commission must take another crack at complying with provisions of a 2015 constitutional amendment.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled that the new redistricting maps for Ohio’s House and Senate districts must be re-drawn because the maps do not meet provisions to reduce partisan political gerrymandering.

In the 4-3 decision Wednesday, the court determined the maps are invalid because the Ohio Redistricting Commission did not attempt to “draw legislative districts that correspond with the statewide voter preference of Ohioans.”

The court ordered the commission to adopt a new plan within 10 days that conforms with the Ohio Constitution and they retain jurisdiction to review the plan.

Redrawing of the maps occurs every 10 years after the U.S. Census is taken. In 2015, Ohioans voted to amend the state’s constitution to change the process and allow the supreme court to hear any challenges to the maps.

In September 2021, the five Republican members of the redistricting commission approved and adopted the maps with opposition from the two Democratic members.

Multiple organizations, including the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Philip Randolph Institute of Ohio, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, and voters filed lawsuits with the court, claiming the approved maps violated the new provisions of the constitution.

While reviewing the redistricting process, the court noted: “all parties agreed that in statewide partisan elections over the past decade, Republican candidates had won 54 percent of the vote share and Democratic candidates had won 46 percent of the vote share.”

The court said the map adopted by the commission favored House Republicans with 67 seats to 32 Democratic seats and the Senate map favored Republicans with 23 seats to 10 Democratic seats.

The maps, which set the boundary lines for the 99 House seats and 33 Senate seats, are set to be used for the 2022 elections. Primary elections are scheduled for May 3.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine released a statement following the Ohio Supreme Court ruling. He states: 

“Throughout this process, I expected that Ohio’s legislative maps would be litigated and that the Ohio Supreme Court would make a decision on their constitutionality. I will work with my fellow Redistricting Commission members on revised maps that are consistent with the Court’s order.”

The Ohio Democratic Party Chair released a statement Wednesday, applauding the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Twice, Ohioans overwhelmingly demanded change and fair representation, and I’m glad that the Ohio Supreme Court listened. The Supreme Court today recognized what Ohioans already knew – GOP politicians tried to ram through an unconstitutional map that further rigs the state in favor of one party over another. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it’s imperative that the commission actually do their jobs this time and create maps that reflect our state, not a Republican party wish list.”

You can view the full ruling by clicking here.

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