Our New Redistricting Process in Ohio
Congressional Redistricting in Ohio, 2021
Principal mapmaking authority: Ohio General Assembly
Congressional mapmaking in 2021 will rely on a multi-step process making it more difficult for one political party to draw districts to give itself an unfair advantage in elections. If the requirements are not met at the first step, the process moves onto the next step for another try, and so on until a map is agreed upon. Here are the steps in sequence.
- The state legislature will adopt a 10-year congressional redistricting plan with 60 percent of members in each chamber voting in favor, including at least 50 percent support from members of each of the two major political parties.
- If that fails, a seven-member commission of statewide elected officials and representatives from the legislature now has the job of adopting a 10-year map. However, this Ohio Redistricting Commission cannot approve a map without at least two votes from each party.
- If the Ohio Redistricting Commission fails to agree, the process moves back to the Ohio Statehouse, where the legislature will have a second chance at passing a 10-year map. This time around there would be a lesser requirement of one-third of the members from the two major parties supporting the proposal.
- Failure at this stage would result in the legislature adopting a plan through a simple majority vote, with no bipartisan vote requirement. However, a map approved in this manner would be good for only four years instead of 10. It would also have to adhere to stricter requirements protecting against drawing district lines to favor or disfavor political parties, candidate and incumbents.
Ohio’s new Congressional redistricting process focuses on reining in the worst excesses of gerrymandering through bipartisan mapmaking, greater transparency and giving Ohioans tools so that they can make their own maps and participate more fully in mapmaking. Congressional redistricting emphasizes counties as political building blocks. Of the eighty-eight counties, sixty-five counties shall be contained entirely within a district, eighteen counties may be split not more than once, and five counties may be split not more than twice.
State Legislative Redistricting in Ohio, 2021
Principal mapmaking authority: Ohio Redistricting Commission
The new Ohio Redistricting Commission is comprised of the Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State, and two representatives each from the Senate and the House, one from each major political party in that chamber. Criteria focus on keeping communities together and increasing transparency. The Ohio Constitution strictly limits splits in county, municipal and township boundaries and there is a prohibition on drawing district lines to favor or disfavor one political party over others.
- Four votes, including at least two from the minority party, would be needed to approve a redistricting map that would be valid for the full 10 years until the next census.
- If the new district lines fail to receive support from at least two members of the minority party, it will only be valid for four years, and will have to be redrawn by the Commission in order to create a second interim map that would be valid for the remaining six years until the next census. Uncertainty concerning these new district boundaries, as well as uncertainty as to which party would hold a majority of seats on the Commission following new statewide elections, should provide a strong incentive for the two parties to reach consensus.
- If a proposed state legislative map fails to receive support from at least two members of the minority party, and if a House proposed map includes more than 6 splits (or 2 splits for Senate districts) of county, municipal or township boundaries that are not strictly in keeping with the aforementioned criteria, the court shall declare the proposal invalid and shall order the Ohio Redistricting Commission back to work.
- If a proposed map fails to receive support from at least two members of the minority party, and if the new district lines are judged to favor one particular party or if it does not “correspond closely to the statewide political preferences of the voters of Ohio” as manifested in the average of the districts’ votes over the previous ten years, the court shall declare the map invalid and shall order the commission to adopt a new general assembly district map.