Ohio voters challenge newly drawn congressional map
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Ohio voters challenge newly drawn congressional map

The National Redistricting Action Fund (NRAF) and 12 Ohio voters Monday challenged Ohio’s 2021 congressional redistricting map as violating Article XIX of the Ohio Constitution, which provides strict anti-gerrymandering requirements. The congressional map was signed into law by Governor DeWine on Saturday.

Article XIX of the Ohio Constitution creates a comprehensive three-step bipartisan process for passing a redistricting plan, which then remains in effect for 10 years. It also contains a last-resort impasse procedure to be used if the bipartisan process reaches a stalemate.

In the impasse procedure, the General Assembly may approve a map by simple majority. However, that map would remain in effect only for four years. In employing the impasse procedure, “[t]he general assembly shall not pass a plan that unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents,” and “shall not unduly split governmental units, giving preference to keeping whole, in the order named, counties, then townships and municipal corporations.”

The complaint filed Monday alleged that the General Assembly deliberately delayed the passing of a bipartisan map so that simple majority map could be pushed through, despite opposition from Democrats. It also alleged that “the map-drawers subordinated traditional redistricting criteria, tore communities of interest apart, and diluted the voting power of Black Ohioans.” As a result, “Democrats can expect to win just three of Ohio’s 15 congressional seats.”

According to the complaint, the plan allegedly violates the substantive requirements of the impasse procedure by splitting counties, cities, and townships and conferring an advantage on Republicans.

The complaint states:

In enacting the 2021 Congressional Plan, the General Assembly—and Governor DeWine—seek to turn the clock back to before 2018, when it had free rein to gerrymander maps as it wished. However, the legal regime has changed, and the Court should not countenance the General Assembly’s and the Governor’s attempt to flout the wishes of Ohio voters. Instead, it should enforce the Constitution’s express prohibitions on partisan gerrymandering and undue subdivision splits by striking down the 2021 Congressional Plan and ordering the General Assembly to enact a plan that complies with Article XIX.