Well folks the time has come. The Ohio Redistricting Commission will convene for the first time this Friday, August 6, at 9am.
This is a momentous occasion for Ohioans, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission was created in 2015 as part of a constitutional amendment to insert more bipartisanship and fairness in Ohio’s redistricting process. The commission is responsible for drawing new Ohio General Assembly districts. The members of the commission are Gov. Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, State Auditor Keith Faber, and four appointees from the Ohio General Assembly: Senators Matt Huffman (R) and Vernon Sykes (D) and Representatives Emilia Sykes (D) and Bob Cupp (R).
As of today, we still don’t know which legislators will serve on the commission, but that will change this Friday. We expect a couple of things to happen on Friday:
- Which two members will be designated as co-chairs of the commision.
- Next, we hope the commission will unveil their long-awaited public hearing schedule. In 2011, the General Assembly rammed through a partisan, gerrymandered map in secret – we cannot, and will not, allow that to happen this time. The ACLU has been pressuring lawmakers to hold public hearings and listen to experts on how the state needs to abide by the new, and bipartisan process for drawing General Assembly districts, but more importantly, these public hearings are a space for all Ohioans to tell the commission the multitude of reasons why Ohio needs fair, representative districts.
The commission has their work cut out for them, too. Our new Ohio General Assembly districts are due by September 1, 2021 – you do the math – the clock is ticking! Adding to the time crunch is the fact that Ohio will not receive the data necessary for drawing new districts until August 16. The short timeline will require the commission to work fast, and this is why it is so important to start tuning in and making sure to stay up to date on the commission’s progress. The ACLU will be closely monitoring the commission hearings, and you can stay up to date on commission meetings, opportunities to give testimony, proposed maps, and commission votes by going to the ACLU of Ohio’s Vote Center Page. It is going to take all of us, standing together in unison, to make sure Ohio doesn’t suffer another ten years of gerrymandered districts and unaccountable legislators.
The goal is to create enough public awareness and pressure for the commission to uphold not only the letter of the law, but also abide by the spirit of the reform. That means everyone has to do their part -write their legislator, attend public hearings, submit testimony, nothing is too big or too small. Thousands of Ohioans joined together in 2015 to get this constitutional amendment passed and now is the time that we follow through on our hard work. The ACLU has been working closely with the architects of the successful 2015 constitutional amendment campaign – the Fair Districts coalition, on ways to make sure all Ohioans have an opportunity to get involved in the fight for fair maps. Visit the Fair Districts Coalition website for more information on how to plug in and volunteer. There you’ll be able to sign up for trainings on community mapping, become a member of our speakers’ bureau, host a house party, sign up to receive a Fair Districts yard sign, and a lot more.
This first meeting, again occurring on Friday, August 6, has the potential to mark the beginning of a new era of Ohio politics – an era focused on the needs of Ohioans, not the preservation of political power at all costs. An era where voters choose their leaders, not politicians picking their voters. An era of responsive, accountable, and transparent government. An era of boldly daring to create a more perfect union.