COLUMBUS, Ohio — Yesterday in a 2-1 decision, a federal three-judge panel announced that it would not intervene in the legislative redistricting process until at least May 28. Per an Ohio Supreme Court order, the Ohio Redistricting Commission has until May 6 to produce a fifth map, as all previous versions have been rejected as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. If the Commission misses this deadline, or offers an unconstitutional plan by the new deadline set by the federal judges, a map that was previously rejected - version 3, struck down on March 16 – will be used in the 2022 primary and general elections.
The Ohio Secretary of State's Office has said August 2 is a crucial date because it allows administrators to get ready for a filing deadline 90 days prior to the election, which would be May 4.
“We are very disappointed that a majority of this three-judge panel has identified a map that has already been struck down as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander by the Ohio Supreme Court as the back-up option. Now the only acceptable path forward is for the Ohio Redistricting Commission to convene and adopt a fair map. The blame falls squarely on the majority members of the Commission who defiantly disrespected the redistricting process, Ohio voters, and the Ohio Supreme Court orders at every turn,” said Freda Levenson, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio. “This is truly our last shot at a constitutional, bipartisan legislative map for 2022, and we know it is possible, if there is political will from the powers at be.”
“For our representative democracy to work, Ohioans need districts that are fair and responsive to voters, rather than rigged for partisan political interests. We stand ready to work with the Ohio Redistricting Commission to create maps that truly uphold the Ohio Constitution and the rights of every Ohio. Time is of the essence so let’s bring back the independent, nonpartisan mappers to get the job done right,” Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
This map that could be in place if the Commission fails to produce a new plan by May 28, is pervaded by extreme partisan asymmetry and materially violates Sections 6A and 6B of Article XI of Ohio’s Constitution. The plan purports to have 45 Democratic-leaning House seats, but 19 of those have a Democratic vote share of less than 52%. Of the purportedly 15 Democratic-leaning Senate seats 7 have a Democratic vote share of less than 52%. Of the 54 Republican-leaning House seats and 18 Republican-leaning Senate seats, none have a Republican vote share of less than 52%.
“Ohio voters should not have to accept less than what we fought for at the ballot box in 2015. The Ohio Redistricting Commission had ample time and opportunity to draw a fair and compliant map – we demand they finally uphold their constitutional duty and draw districts that don’t unduly favor either political party,” noted Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute.
Read the order below.