Supreme Court threatens to hold Ohio Redistricting Commission in contempt

Posted at 7:21 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 17:18:38-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Redistricting Commission had one job to do — get district maps in front of the state Supreme Court by Friday, Feb. 18. The day came and went without maps. Now, the Court is asking for the Commission to explain why they shouldn't be held in contempt.

The members have until noon on Feb. 23 to explain why they should not be found in contempt for failure to comply with a Feb. 7 order.

The redistricting meeting Thursday evening was an intense back and forth mainly between House Minority Leader Allison Russo and Senate President Matt Huffman. In the end, a 5-2 vote along party lines was decided.

"This is simply Republican commissioners refusing to follow the Constitution," Russo said in an interview with News 5.

More on the meeting here.

GOP members say the Dems map was racially gerrymandered and they couldn't submit any other map that would meet the Court's expectations.

"Looking at the democrat map, that is not constitutional," Gov. Mike DeWine said.

So what happens next?

“We can't just flip a switch and hold a primary,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said at the meeting.

LaRose has two roles here. He is on the commission but is also in charge of state elections. He is trying to figure out how to still have the May elections, but without the district maps, he is running into issues.

"We need to get the maps done and then we need an adequate amount of time to run the election," he said in an interview with News 5. "

He said a few things could happen depending on how we proceed.

Ohio could either get a map approved or the court decides it. Then ballots can start being created, voting equipment can be tested and ballots can get sent out.

If Ohio doesn't have a map soon enough for the Board of Elections, the primary date will need to be pushed.

"I think that for a lot of Ohioans, including people that serve in positions of authority, they haven't given much thought to all the work that goes in at the Board of Elections," he said. "There's a reason why there are 90 days between candidate filing and Election Day.

"Really, every one of those three months, those 90 days are accounted for. There's work that needs to happen on each one of those days in order to culminate on Election Day. And then, of course, that period of four weeks, early voting and absentee voting."

The last option is to split the May primary date into two different events.

There are specific timelines that he can't miss, including overseas and early voting dates. He says crunching those timelines down could leave room for error.

"We don't want to see the primary date move," he added. "But what's even worse is having an election that leaves the door open to fraud or causes a scenario where we're not every voice can be heard or create a level of chaos at our Board of Elections."

RELATED: Redistricting commission punts again, defies court order

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