COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Redistricting Commission moved forward with their plans to adopt new state legislative district boundaries before next Wednesday’s constitutional deadline though there will be some heavy lifting to do before then if they are to adopt a 10-year plan.
The commission voted along party lines to move forward with the maps introduced Thursday by Republicans, ones they argued complies with constitutional requirements to keep districts compact with fewer counties and communities divided.
But while maps presented last month by Democrats followed the state's 55-45 Republican-Democrat split of statewide voting, these did not.
"That analysis is ongoing it is not complete as of today and it is ongoing,” said Ray DiRossi of the Ohio Senate Republican Caucus.
When asked about how the GOP map complies with any provisions of the Voting Rights Act Republicans admitted that no racial or demographic data was used in the making of the maps.
“Can you explain why you didn't consider any parts of the Voting Rights Act in your consideration of these maps before us today,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes.
“Well I said we didn't consider racial data or demographic data in our maps,” said DiRossi. “But we were directed not to use that data by the legislative leaders and so we did not use it,” he added.
Andrea Yagoda of Columbus one of many speakers fired up over what she said was a failure to fully take into account what voters required in the constitutional changes in the process.
"You are not going to silence me for the next ten years. I have had enough Ohioans have had enough,” she said. "This is not what we voted for this is not the process this is not acting in good faith."
Still, that was the working version that was voted on in the afternoon by the commission and passed by a party-line vote to get discussions started with strong concerns by the Democrats.
"The partisan proportions are worse than what they are existing today,” said State Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron).
Republican Auditor Keith Faber and Secretary of State Frank LaRose though felt they were starting off with a lot of common ground.
"What I see is that the two maps aren't as far apart as some might think they are,” LaRose said. “This is that time that we now need to roll up our sleeves as a group though. The seven of us and find those compromises over the weekend."
Progress of those meetings will be discussed in a series of meetings around the state planned for Sunday, September 12 at 4 p.m. in Dayton, Monday at 4 p.m. in Cleveland, Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Columbus.