Fair Districts Ohio Announces Winners of Congressional Mapping Competition

Today, leaders of Fair Districts Ohio announced the winners of the Fair Districts Redistricting Competition for Ohio’s U.S. congressional map. The competition was designed not only to produce constitutional maps that could serve as alternatives to any maps proposed by Ohio’s official mapmakers, but to educate Ohioans about how maps can be adapted, improved, and revised with public input. Citizen mapmakers, using free software available on the Internet, were able to craft maps that checked all the boxes: keeping communities together, minority representation, representational fairness, and also competitiveness. Winning maps can serve as a starting point for the official mapmakers.

“We thank all of our contestants and their collective success in submitting a high number of stellar maps to the Fair Districts Mapping Competition. Maps were vetted to ensure they follow all legal criteria and were evaluated through a variety of methods. These assessments reveal the exceptional success of the three winning maps in creating congressional districts that achieve high levels of proportionality while minimizing splits, maximizing compactness, and maintaining communities of interest,” said Dr. Christopher Cusack, Technical Manager of the Fair Districts Ohio Mapping Competition. “Undoubtedly, these winning maps provide a standard that the people of Ohio should expect the Ohio Redistricting Commission to match or surpass.” 

The three congressional district map winners are 1st place John Hagner from Yellow Springs, Ohio; 2nd place Paul Nieves from Yonkers, New York, and 3rd place Riley Jones from Loveland, Ohio.

“With nearly forty submissions, our congressional mapping competition demonstrates that congressional districts can be drawn with few county splits and a commitment to keeping communities together,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio. “Our winning maps should be considered by the official mapmakers. These proposed voting districts can inspire our leaders as they consider how best to create a congressional map for the next decade.”

The congressional portion of the Fair Districts Mapping Competition began on August 27. A sixteen-member advisory committee made up of a diverse collection of community leaders served as the judging panel for map submissions. Dr. Chris Cusack provided an overview of all the maps submitted minus the names of contestants to ensure no bias in selecting the winners. The committee deliberated over the selection of winners for nearly a week. 

The following are quotes from the three winners of the congressional districts portion of the mapping competition:

“Redistricting is all about trade-offs, but what this map shows is that it’s possible to balance minority representation, representative fairness, and competitive districts with boundaries that make sense and reflect Ohio communities,” said John Hagner of Yellow Springs and congressional map winner. “Tortured lines, and split communities, and districts that sprawl across the state are deliberate choices to make elections less competitive, and we can demand better.”

“I am thrilled that my map reached the finalist stage, but I am more thrilled by the potential for this map to be used as a starting point for establishing fair congressional districts in Ohio for the next decade,” said Riley Jones of Loveland and congressional map winner.  “I’m glad that a competition such as this one took place, because it really demonstrates how easy and straightforward the redistricting process can be if you go into it with a clear conscience and set aside your political biases in favor of creating districts that properly represent the people of Ohio.”

“Over the past decade, I’ve developed a passion for redistricting by utilizing Dave’s Redistricting App to draw fair Congressional and State Legislative Districts,” said Paul Nieves, congressional map winner from Yonkers, NY.  “I learned about this contest via the Princeton Gerrymandering Project Mapping Corps, of which I’m a member, and I entered the contest to apply my skills in demonstrating a fair Ohio Congressional District Plan. If we’re living in a representative democracy, it’s essential to have representation that appropriately reflects the population.”

The Ohio Redistricting Commission has already approved new Ohio General Assembly maps.  Despite voter-approved measures requiring bipartisan maps that end gerrymandering in Ohio, state legislators approved highly partisan state legislative maps — that will be in place for four years rather than 10 years. These newly approved four-year district lines give Republicans the advantage in 62 of 99 House districts and 23 of 33 Senate districts, securing prolonged supermajorities.

Today is the deadline for the state legislature — with support from 50% of both Democratic and Republican members — to approve congressional districts. No action has been taken and it’s unlikely that the Ohio General Assembly will act. The mapmaking authority will move to the Ohio Redistricting Commission with a deadline of Oct. 31. The final deadline for congressional maps is November 30. 

The mapmakers are bound by the reform measures that nearly 75 percent of voters approved. These reforms focus on bipartisan transparent mapmaking that keeps counties whole as much as possible. Fair Districts Ohio will continue to advocate for greater public debate and engagement, in addition to voicing support for consideration of the maps from the Mapping Competition. 

  • Click here for the 1st place map created by John Hagner and here for his narrative describing mapmaking choices. 
  • Click here for the 2nd place map created by Paul Nieves, and here for his narrative describing mapmaking choices.
  • Click here for the 3rd place map created by Riley Jones, and here for his narrative describing mapmaking choices. 

For more information about the competition, rules, and mapping criteria, click here.