With census numbers expected next month, Ohio prepares to begin redistricting process

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 11:39:58-05

CLEVELAND — As Washington marks the beginning of the Biden Administrations many have remarked about the call for unity following Wednesday’s peaceful transition of power. Sill many wonder how long it will last? In Ohio, it’s possible it could last a little longer as each member of Congress faces the prospect of running for reelection next year in a redrawn district that will likely be less blue or red than the one they’re currently in.

Over the last decade, Ohio's Congressional districts have become well known for their odd boundaries, even earning their own nicknames. Marcy Kaptur's "snake on the lake" district thinly stretched from Cleveland to Toledo and Jim Jordan's "duck district" for its obvious waterfowl comparison.

The inkblot boundaries divided up Ohio counties like Summit into four districts.

The courts ruled Ohio's districts to be unconstitutional in 2019, gerrymandered by Republicans to benefit Republicans, and ordered them redrawn but the U.S. Supreme Court would later rule Federal Courts shouldn't be deciding such cases until after the districts are redrawn in 2022.

That's a process that starts next month in Ohio with the results of last year's census. As it was Ohio voters in 2018 approved a new process aimed at more fairly drawing the districts.

The argument at the time was Ohio's Republicans in Congress received 52% of the vote in 2018 but controlled 75% of the congressional seats.

Ohio wasn’t alone in this category a court-ordered redraw, Pennsylvania saw their map go from this to this and in turn, the legislative split went 12-6 Republican in 2018 to an even 9-9.

"The plan for redistricting and reform is to make districts more competitive,” Sutton said.

So legislators are less concerned about primary elections and more concerned about general elections. A move thought to create more an air of legislative cooperation like we're seeing this week in Washington.

Sutton says there's a problem with that thinking in Ohio though as the new plan limits the number of counties that can be split and how many ways they can be divided.

"That makes sense in terms of communities being represented by one representative not two or three but the flip side of that is you wind up with what we call packing, you pack voters of a particular party all into one district."

Which Sutton points out one can argue is what we currently have.

"This plan may inadvertently wind up still creating what would be considered safe districts for those parties," said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University.

That’s in part a result of geography, while Ohio’s vote may lean 52-48 Republican it’s skewed by rural counties going heavily Republican with nine of them voting for President Donald Trump in November with more than 80% of their vote while the urban cores vote equally as heavy Democratic.