With deadline for Congressional maps near, Ohio Redistricting Commission yet to schedule a meeting

New state senate districts
Posted at 5:24 PM, Oct 21, 2021

COLUMBUS, Ohio — At the close of the state legislative redistricting process last month that resulted in a party line vote on new four year districts now being challenged by three lawsuits in the State Supreme Court, Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose warned his colleagues "this process will be different it is not going to work this way next time."

And he's been right, it hasn't, because while the commission came under fire for the way they drew those maps—they at least did draw some. To date there hasn't been a single meeting ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline to even begin the process. This despite calls from Democratic Co-Chair Vernon Sykes and LaRose himself to do so.

"It is time for this commission to meet," LaRose told News 5. "I can tell you that I've been working on my drafts of different ideas of how I think that we could reach a compromise, but until we can all come together as a commission and talk about those sort of basic principles of how we can draw these maps and reach that 10 year consensus, the clock's going to run out if we don't meet soon and that would be deeply disappointing to me."

He's not alone. Catherine Turcer is executive director of Common Cause Ohio. She's one of the people who fought for the constitutional change in 2018 that created this process.

"I have no idea what they're waiting for," Turcer said. "There are only 10 more days so we have to assume that they are just not going to actually get together, that they're not actually going to create 10 year congressional maps and they're going to leave it to the state legislature."

Yes—the same legislature that failed to act on the drawing of these congressional districts by a Sept. 30 deadline, which then caused it to go the seven member redistricting commission, would then get the job back November first if the commission fails to act.

"If it's complicated to do bi-partisan map making with seven people," Turcer said. "It is definitely going to be complicated with 132 people."

That's why LaRose is trying to, in a sense, get the band back together.

"I want to avoid this going to the courts. I don't want to see this resolved in more litigation, I want to see us as Republicans and Democrats come together as statesmen and women and solve this for Ohioans," he said.

If it goes back to the legislature though, Turcer points out there are some additional protections that were not there in the state legislative map drawing process.

"There's an instruction that they explain the choices that they make and I think this is incredibly important because at the end of the day if the map is gerrymandered or inappropriate or doesn't reflect the voting patterns of the state of Ohio shall we say, it can go to court. When you put things in writing it's much easier to make the case that the map is unfair and they have to go back to the drawing board."