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Ohio Addresses Gerrymandering With Public Redistricting Map

Ohio has released a new website that gives state residents the chance to weigh in on the drawing of congressional districts. The maps will be redrawn next month by a bipartisan commission.

The current map of Ohio's congressional districts has been described as gerrymandered - use once only
The current map of Ohio's congressional districts has been described as gerrymandered.
Rich Exner/cleveland.com
(TNS) — Officials in charge of redrawing Ohio’s political maps have launched a website through which the public can offer input into the high-stakes process of redistricting.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s new website, redistricting.ohio.gov, includes a portal the public can use to submit maps of their own. The commission, a panel of five Republican elected officials and two Democratic ones, will redraw the lines for Ohio’s 66 House districts and 33 state Senate districts, with deadlines falling on Sept. 1 and Sept. 15.

The commission also could draw the maps for Ohio’s 15 congressional districts, with a deadline falling on Oct. 31, depending on whether the state legislature can come up with a deal with enough bipartisan support by a different Sept. 30 deadline.

The website also includes information about the commission members, as well as details of 10 upcoming public hearings. The first two hearings are on Monday — one from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Cleveland State University’s campus in Cleveland, and the other from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Youngstown State University’s campus in Youngstown.

This year will mark the first time Ohio’s redistricting will occur using a new process voters approved in statewide elections in 2015 and 2018. The new process, designed to require greater input from minority parties while limiting how counties and cities can be split into different districts, is meant to fight gerrymandering. The redistricting process has been rushed this year in large part due to the delayed release of 2020 U.S. Census data, which is used as the foundation for designing political districts.

Ohio’s current congressional maps, which went into effect in 2012, are especially gerrymandered, giving Republicans 12 of the state’s 16 congressional districts, or 75%, even though Republicans have only gotten around 54% of vote in statewide elections over the past decade. The districts also were designed to be noncompetitive, with none of the 12 Republican seats or 4 Democratic seats changing hands while the maps have been effect.

Ohio is losing a congressional seat following the 2020 census. Depending on how redistricting goes, Democrats could stand to gain share of the state’s delegation if one or more Republican districts end up getting eliminated.

Another issue to watch is in the state legislature, where Republicans hold a supermajority, or three-fifths, of both the House and Senate, giving lawmakers the ability to override a veto from the governor. More politically proportionate maps could see Republicans fall below the required 60% threshold.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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