Redistricting Update, Week of April 4, 2022

Thanks to so many of you who joined our webinar Fair Districts Ohio Update on Everything last night with Dave Daley, Kathay Feng, and Rory Riley-Topping. If you missed it, you can watch a recording HERE and see our slides HERE

Thanks also to everyone who attended our Ohio Redistricting Commission watch parties in the past few weeks. A lot has happened since the last gathering! Below please find some updates and links. 

Ohio House and Senate Maps

  • On 3/16/22, the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the third set of state legislative maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Read more about this in the blog post As per my two previous emails.”
  • In its opinion, the Court required the Ohio Redistricting Commission to go back to the drawing board and try again, this time using independent mappers, working in public, starting afresh rather than from a map that had previously been struck down. The deadline for completion of the maps was midnight on Monday, 3/28.
  • Democrats and Republicans on the Commission recommended mappers  Michael McDonald and Douglas Johnson, respectively. Ground rules were established, and by Wednesday, 3/23, Ohio’s first attempt at transparent, bipartisan mapmaking was underway. (See this article about Doug Johnson.)
  • The public was able to watch via an Ohio Channel live stream. (The Ohio Channel archives include both Commission meetings and workroom sessions.) Hundreds of you joined our Fair Districts watch parties to observe the Commission hearings.
  • During the week, viewers observed the Republicans working hard to slow the process down. In addition to many other stalling tactics, they tasked the mappers with adding in incumbent addresses and then adjusting the maps to make sure incumbents were not “double-bunked” in a single district (a consideration that had specifically been deemed unnecessary by the court). 
  • On the very last day, GOP staffers were absent and did not help the mappers complete their task. Although the final version of the maps were in fact available by around 10:30pm, they had not been checked over thoroughly at that time. 
  • Claiming that it was impossible for the independent mappers to complete their task by the deadline, President Huffman introduced a different set of maps at 9:15pm. The “new” maps were almost identical to the ones struck down by the court on 3/16. These maps were voted on and adopted just an hour after being introduced even though none of the Commissioners other than President Huffman owned to having seen them before or been involved in their creation. 
  • The “failsafe/parachute” maps were adopted with yes votes from Huffman, Cupp, DeWine, and LaRose. Faber abstained; Russo and Sykes voted no. 
  • The League of Women Voters, et al., filed objections to the 4th set of maps, as well as requested that the Ohio Supreme Court reconsider contempt charges for the four commissioners who voted yes. The Elias Group petitioners also filed objections and a motion for an order directing the Commission to show cause for why they should not be held in contempt of the court’s March 16th order striking down the third set of state legislative maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Responses, if any, were ordered to be filed no later than 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 4, 2022.
  • You can see the adopted and independent maps here, plus, check out Professor’s Rodden’s analysis of the various plans here

Federal Lawsuit on Statehouse Maps

  • The lawsuit by a group of Republican activists seeking to have struck down maps reinstated by federal courts before the May 3rd primary had been scheduled for a hearing on Friday, 2/25/2022. 
  • On Thursday, 2/24/2022, the ACLU filed a motion asking for a stay in the case. You can read about it in their press release. That motion was granted and the hearing rescheduled for the morning of Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
  • On 3/30/22, a three-judge panel decided to not take a stance in Ohio’s legislative redistricting process for the time being, waiting to see if the state can resolve the issue on its own. The judges said they want the parties in the case to write back to them what they want the federal court to do, should it choose to act regarding the maps and the primary date. The judges then set April 20th, 2022 as a “drop-dead date” for which they feel they must act if the state has not resolved the situation by then.

Contempt Charges 

  • On 2/18/22, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered that the Ohio Redistricting Commission show cause as to why they should not be found in contempt for failure to comply with the court’s February 7, 2022, order to draw constitutionally compliant legislative maps.
  • On 2/24/22, the Ohio Supreme Court ordered the Commission to appear before the bench on the morning of Tuesday, March 1st to discuss whether they should be held in contempt for failing to produce constitutional state legislative maps. Justice Pat DeWine, whose father is the governor, had announced he would recuse himself from the proceeding.
  • On 2/25/22, the Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor postponed the March 1st hearing in response to the Commission passing a new set of maps on 2/24/22. The order did not set a new date for the hearing but was continued indefinitely.
  • On 3/29/22, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee petitioners filed a motion for an order directing the Commission to show cause for why they should not be held in contempt of the court’s March 16th order striking down the third set of state legislative maps passed by the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The League of Women Voters also filed a motion requesting contempt proceedings to be resumed as well as for a stay on the fourth redistricting plan to allow the redistricting commission to adopt a fifth plan.
  • On Wednesday, 3/30/22, the court ordered that responses to the motions, if any, shall be filed no later than 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 4, 2022.

Congressional Map

  • On Friday, 3/18, 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 3/21, National Redistricting Action Fund filed a new lawsuit challenging the second congressional map. 
  • On 3/22, the ACLU & LWV filed an additional lawsuit asking for corrections to two specific districts, not for 2022, but for 2024. 

Ohio’s Primary Election

  • On March 30, 2022, a federal three-judge panel said that it will not yet intervene in state legislative maps or in setting a postponed or second primary. Therefore a May 3 primary election for statewide, congressional, and local races is still planned as scheduled. 
  • On Wednesday, March 23, Secretary of State LaRose issued a directive, telling all boards of elections in the state to remove any candidates for state house and senate races from the May 3 primary ballot, saying that it’s too late to put legislative races on the ballot and maintain the schedule, which includes the start of early voting and deadline for mailing military and overseas ballots on April 5. 
  • The Ohio General Assembly can go one of two directions. First, they could move the entire primary election to a later date. Second, they could allow the statewide, congressional, and local races to continue on the May 3 ballot and reschedule the General Assembly primary contests for a later date.
  • The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will let the state process of redrawing legislative maps, including court challenges, and the setting of a second primary date for races for state representative and senator to continue until the standoff “endangers citizens’ right to vote for those races.”
  • The judges are exploring setting a second primary date with the forced implementation of maps and were told that, if it were to intervene, it would have to do so before May 28 if it intends to impose the third set of maps but before April 20 for any map that has not already been programmed by elections boards given the need for additional candidate filing time. April 20 is the last day state elections officials said they could plug in new maps in time for them to be used August 2, the last date the state could hold a primary election for state legislative races.
  • Secretary LaRose has told the federal court his preference would be for a single primary on May 24 using the third set of maps, which have already been declared unconstitutional.
  • The cost of holding a second primary is expected to be about $20 to $25 million.

Thanks again for continuing the fight for Fair Districts!