COLUMBUS, Ohio — State leaders in Columbus, who have the responsibility of redrawing the state’s legislative districts, will meet for the first time Friday morning. The seven-member commission of five Republicans and two Democrats led by Gov. Mike DeWine will begin the process of drawing the boundaries for the state’s 33 Senate and 99 House seats.
The move comes just ahead of the promised delivery of U.S. Census numbers by Aug. 16 that will be used to divide up the state. DeWine will be joined on the commission by Ohio State Auditor Keith Faber, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and a Democrat and Republican from the state House and Senate.
In the past, it was a process controlled by the party in power in Columbus which led to gerrymandered districts benefiting Republicans in the state. And while the party in power still controls the process, Ohio voters in 2015 and 2018 made changes to the state constitution to make that at least a fairer one. Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio played a role in those changes she thought might never come.
"It took years and we had a defeat in 2005 and when he had a defeat in 2012 and you know we got the legislature to listen and do something in 2014 so we had something on in '15, but it's been this really long process,” Turcer recalled. “And now we're at the point where we could actually get some decent maps and it's like kind of holding your breath and hoping for the best."
Ohio will lose one congressional seat as a result of the nation’s population shift. Drawing those new districts will fall to the legislature, again with those new safeguards in place.