Redistricting Sweetheart Deal at the Statehouse

Just when you thought our tortured redistricting saga could not get any more twisted, here comes another curve. 

Last night, the two Democrats on the Ohio Redistricting Commission joined together with the five Republicans to approve clearly not proportional (and therefore unconstitutional) maps that had been negotiated secretly out of the public eye. 

The redistricting rules in the Ohio Constitution require maps to be drawn in a public process, with ample opportunity for comment and feedback from the public. And yet, once again, the commission voted on maps that were unveiled to the public just minutes before. The fact that Democrats joined Republicans in a process that shoves Ohioans to the side does not make it any better – arguably it’s worse. Now it’s not just one party ignoring the rules and thumbing their noses at voters, it’s both. 

The Ohio Constitution also calls for proportional fairness so that our maps reflect how Ohioans vote. The fact that four members of the Ohio legislature are good with a map doesn’t make it either Constitutional or fair. Sweetheart deals that protect incumbents do not lead to fair maps or accountable representation. Even without extensive analysis we can say without a doubt that these maps do not meet the requirement for proportionality. 

What is crystal clear is that politicians of any stripe cannot be trusted to draw fair maps. We need a new system that puts the power to draw lines in the hands of a citizens commission with no self-interests to protect. That’s why both the Fair Districts and Equal Districts coalitions will be focusing all our efforts and energy on supporting the Citizens Not Politicians ballot initiative with the aim of seeing it on the ballot in November 2024.

One quick point of clarification: although our Constitution states that maps agreed upon with a bipartisan consensus last for 10 years, if – WHEN – we pass a constitutional amendment that changes the redistricting process, the clock will restart at zero. No matter what the commissioners agreed to last night, when a new set of redistricting rules are added to the Constitution in 2024, both congressional and legislative maps will need to be redrawn in 2025, in time for elections in 2026. 

Here are some links to maps and analysis (using Dave’s Redistricting):

Read the joint statement from Equal Districts and Fair Districts. And also the statement from former Chief Justice O’Connor. 

Please join Citizens Not Politicians tomorrow, Thursday, 9/28, for a Policy Deep Dive on the proposed constitutional amendment. Register HERE. The webinar will be led by former chief justice Maureen O’Connor. We will send a recording out afterwards to everyone who is registered.