Ohio partisan divide again thwarts 10-year legislative maps

On Saturday, the Ohio Redistricting Commission once again failed to reach the bipartisan consensus needed to pass the 10-year maps of state legislative districts.

The new maps had to be drawn based on the 2020 census totals but were supposed to be drawn fairly between the Democratic and Republican Parties. 

Even though the seven-member redistricting panel had been previously scolded by the high court of the state, the panel still approved new maps along party lines as the court-set Saturday deadline approached. That means the maps would only be approved for the next four years rather than the decade intended in the census-driven process.

The high court still has the right to review the panel’s proposed change to the districts. Prior maps had been successfully dropped as a result of challenges by voting rights and Democratic groups saying they were gerrymandered along partisan lines.

House Democratic Leader-elect Allison Russo cast a no vote, and she called the action shameful. “Ultimately, this is not an issue of geography or technical inability to draw fair maps,” she commented, regarding her opponents. “It is a lack of political courage and a blatant disregard for the court’s order and the will of the Ohio voters.”

Republicans in the redistricting commission defended their own maps as the only ones that abided by all the Ohio Constitution, saying they did give Democrats more seats than the plan before. 

The parties could not come together even through behind-the-scenes negotiations that panelists said took place between staff members of commissioners of both parties for almost all 10 days since the court’s ruling.

Ray DiRossi, Senate Finance Director, helped lead GOP map-drawing efforts. “We have done nothing but attempt for the last nine-and-a-half days,” he noted, refusing to give specific evidence regarding what prevented the GOP from getting closer to the state’s party divide with its maps.

“Every ounce of our effort, collectively and individually, and all of the other staff have been towards complying with the court’s rulings. Everything we’ve done has done that, so my life for the last nine-and-a-half days would be my evidence.” 




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