After the Ohio Supreme Court rejected three previously proposed maps, the Ohio Redistricting Committee brought in outside personnel to help configure a fourth map.
The Redistricting Commission has announced the recruitment of two cartographers: Douglas Johnson of the National Demographics Corporation in California and Michael McDonald, professor of political science at the University of Florida.
This comes after the Supreme Court of Ohio recommended that outside mappers be introduced so that the original primary dates of May 3 are not pushed back. The Ohio Supreme Court has requested that a fourth map be compiled and submitted to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office by March 28, so that the state Supreme Court can review it on next day.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected all three precedents on the grounds that they were “unconstitutionally gerrymanders.” These previously submitted cards allowed several organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, the National Redistricting Action Fund, and the League of Women Voters of Ohio, to file lawsuits against these cards.
Chris Glassburn, a Democratic mapper on the Ohio Redistricting Commission who is helping with the mapping process, spoke about the difficulties keeping to primary times.
” There is no [logistical] and the physical time to get there,” Glassburn said. “It’s physically impossible to make that happen at this point.”
LaRose believes the Ohio House and Ohio Senate electoral races will not be able to make it to the May 3 ballots under the current circumstances, Glassburn said.
Glassburn said early voting, including military voting for those currently serving or unable to vote at their local polling places, should already take place but is currently being delayed.
A rejection of the fourth card could lead to a delay in the primary election which could potentially call for a second election at a later date so that ballots can be properly made up with the correct candidates and names, said Michael Ensley, professor of political science. in Kent State.
With no map at this time by the Ohio Supreme Court, Democratic members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission have asked the State Supreme Court to postpone the date of the primaries to June 28 or another date that would allow enough time depending on how that fourth card is decided.
Not only are maps being developed of Ohio’s House and Senate districts, but a separate map is also being developed for Congressional seats in the United States House of Representatives. After the release of 2020 U.S. Census figures last year, Ohio was short by more 11,000 Ohioans to retain 16 seats in the US House of Representatives. Ohio will now have 15 seats until U.S. census numbers are revised in 2030.
Even if Ohio loses a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ensley said maps outlining Ohio’s districts for the House of Representatives “can definitely change the dynamics of the election.” [of the Ohio House and Senate].”
Ensley said competitive races within U.S. House of Representatives districts can also influence “mobilization, the number of voters [and] media coverage,” the Ohio House and Senate get through local elections.
Federal lawsuits, in addition to state lawsuits, are also challenging map outlines and posing a threat to the primaries. Federal courts are now involved and unlike the Ohio Supreme Court, a federal court can “trump” the state Supreme Court and move the primary date, Glassburn said.
“The premise is that because of the primary that’s coming up, somehow the cards don’t exist, they disenfranchise the people, that’s the premise that he’s is in federal court,” Glassburn said.
Ensley said the “most infamous” case, similar to what’s happening in Ohio, is a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, Shaw vs. Reno, which, according to Ensley, had many setbacks and was a “long process”, which included cases of gerrymandering in the state of North Carolina. The concept of gerrymandering, as Ensley put it, is the “driving force”, behind the setbacks of previously offered cards and why several organizations have filed lawsuits against these cards.
Republican Party members are calling for the removal of Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor because O’Connor sided with the Court’s Democratic justices throughout the redistricting process .
However, with some Republicans wanting O’Connor’s impeachment, other Republicans like Governor Mike DeWine said impeachment against O’Connor was “not a good idea.”
The Ohio Supreme Court may take up to three weeks to make a decision on the fourth map because it took the state Supreme Court six months to rule on the first proposed map, Glassburn said. .
A bipartisan process that Ensley says is a “complicated situation” is seeking a solution with a fourth map proposal being worked on as mail-in ballots were sent out on April 5.
Early voting began on April 5 and will continue until May 2, but some races will not appear on the ballot, such as races for state representatives, the state senate, and the state central committee.
Anthony Zacharyasz is a journalist. Contact him at [email protected].