Redistricting Commission: Leave the maps unconstitutional for the 2022 elections | Ohio News | Cincinnati

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The Ohio Redistricting Commission is asking the state Supreme Court to rule on a legislative plan previously ruled unconstitutional only after it was used for the 2022 general election.

Those who agreed to resubmit a February version of the legislative redistricting plan treated the new/old plan as a “stop-gap” measure in arguments against objections filed with the Ohio Supreme Court.

“The Commission is out of options,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in his response to objections.

The legal challengers have asked the state’s highest court to hold the commissioners in defiance for their actions in the process, including violating Supreme Court orders.

The demands also requested that the court appoint a special master – a court-appointed neutral party – to lead the map-drawing process. They also requested that new cards be ordered by the end of this week.

Gov. Mike DeWine said objections to the cards “are completely detached from facts and reality.”

“Their submissions repeat the same hypercritical refrain, ignoring that the Commission’s primary constitutional charge is to develop redistricting plans for incorporation and use within Ohio’s statutory framework so that elections can, in effect, , unfold,” DeWine said in her court filing.

LaRose took his turn advising the Supreme Court on next steps, but they include a separate court, namely the U.S. District Court, taking on a case that asks the Federal Court to intervene where the commission and the Supreme Court did not.

A three-judge panel of that court said it would order the same map readopted by the commission on May 5 to be adopted as the map for the 2022 general election.

The state’s Chief Electoral Officer said the federal court must set the date for the Aug. 2 primaries “in stone,” while urging the General Assembly to put a plan in place regarding election deadlines.

“If any of these contingencies are not met, millions of Ohioans are at risk of being denied the right to meaningfully engage in the elective process,” LaRose told the Supreme Court of Ottawa. ‘Ohio. “This is a result that the secretary cannot accept.”

However, LaRose didn’t just blame the court or the commission for the current situation. He pointed to the General Assembly’s inaction on the issue leading the commission to its brick wall.

“The General Assembly has failed to act and there is no indication that it will ever be able to secure supermajority votes in every house to pass emergency legislation setting a date for a primary election. to the 2022 General Assembly and other associated election deadlines for the state’s legislative districts,” LaRose said.

LaRose, who voted with the majority to pass all of the legislative plans so far, acknowledged in the documents that the plan had already been rejected by the Supreme Court, but said the duplicate passage “doesn’t should not be considered an attack on the previous decision of this court”. .”

The commission’s co-chair, State Representative Jeff LaRe, joined State Senator Rob McColley in defending himself against objections, as did the men they replaced on the commission (the chairman of House Bob Cupp and Senate Speaker Matt Huffman) have done so in legal documents.

They supported statements made by LaRose in his response and in verbal and written statements he made during last week’s commission meetings exposing the election, essentially saying that a new plan would be impossible to implement. work.

“As a result, the realities of administering elections in Ohio compelled the commission to resubmit the third plan,” McColley and LaRe said in court documents.

The two lawmakers “are also aware that the third plan has already been struck down by the Court,” but stressed with LaRose the urgency of election administration.

“Alternatively, if the Court again invalidates the Third Plan, Defendants ask the Court to delay requiring any further remedy from the Commission until after the 2022 elections, at which time the elections will determine which members of the Commission will return to the Commission,” they said. wrote.

Despite LaRose saying that even an Aug. 2 date couldn’t work in committee discussions and in court papers indicating that legislative action would also need to be upheld, LaRe and McColley argue that Aug. 2 is the date. only viable election date” unless this Court wants to risk the administration of the 2022 election, confuse the electorate and drive down turnout.

Also to avoid voter confusion, McColley and LaRe said the 2022 election should go ahead with the third map, and any court rulings should come after that whether or not the map is found to be unconstitutional.

None of the court documents go into detail about whether an election could be held invalid if the cards used in the election are later found to be unconstitutional.

The only two to say the court should no longer consider the commission a source of redistricting power were the two Democratic members, who stood behind the map challengers at every turn.

“This Court must also discard any sense that the Republican Commissioners will respect the authority of this Court and the Ohio Constitution in the future unless it takes stronger action,” said Senator Vernon Sykes. and House Minority Leader Allison Russo in their court responses.

This story was originally published by the Ohio Capital Journal and is republished here with permission.

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