Where are the political maps of Ohio? – News-Herald
By JULIE CARR SMYTH
COLUMBUS — Maps of Ohio’s political districts — boundaries used to determine who represents Ohioans in Washington and Columbus for up to 10 years — are still not final, with the May 3 primary now less than three months away. .
Amid a confusing jumble of court decisions, political maneuvering and shifting timelines, here’s a look at the situation:
WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?
Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature and Ohio’s bipartisan redistricting commission can’t agree on what the maps should look like. Political control at the Statehouse in Columbus and in Washington could be at stake.
So far, the maps have been drawn by majority Republicans and have failed to secure a single Democratic vote. Democrats want more seats favorable to their party — and they say constitutional amendments approved by Ohio voters demand it. Republicans who control the process say they did their best. The Ohio Supreme Court has so far ruled their work unconstitutional.
WHY SO MANY CARDS?
Two processes move simultaneously. The first involves maps of Statehouse legislative lines, that is, Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts. The second is the map of the Ohio Congress, that is, the lines for electing representatives to the United States House. Ohio will have 15 congressional seats for the next decade, after losing one due to under-growth in the 2020 census.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER?
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled the legislative maps unconstitutional in January, the Redistricting Commission sent a redrawn version, and that too was declared unconstitutional. While the second set of cards came close to Ohio’s 54% Republican-46% Democratic mix, the court said it didn’t go far enough. The panel now has until February 17 to pass a third round of cards.
Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated state legislature passed the congressional map in November. The High Court declared it unconstitutional in January, giving lawmakers 30 days to fix it and, if they failed, giving the Redistricting Commission another 30 days. Legislative leaders said this week they would not be able to meet their 30-day deadline, which would have fallen on Sunday. There are not enough Democratic votes to pass the bill on an emergency basis, they said, pushing back the effective date of any bill beyond the primary.
This means that the Redistricting Commission must also manage the development of the Congressional map, with a deadline of mid-March.
WON’T ALL THIS HINDER THE 2022 ELECTION?
Potentially. This leaves lawmakers and election officials scrambling to figure out what to do.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose had already received approval from the Legislature to adjust some deadlines faced by candidates and county election commissions. The deadline for legislative and Senate candidates to declare their candidacies has already passed, for example. The deadline for U.S. House candidates has been moved to March 4.
Lawmakers have also made adjustments that will allow candidates drawn from one district to continue to run in the new one in which they reside.
COULD THE PRIMARY BE MOVED?
Yes. It happened as recently as 2020. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s chief health officer canceled Ohio’s presidential primary in March just hours before the opening of surveys. Democrats sued when LaRose set the new date for this June, saying it was the job of the Legislative Assembly. Lawmakers have established a new, almost exclusively postal primary for this April.
This week, Republican Senate Speaker Matt Huffman even raised the possibility that Ohio might have to hold two separate primaries: one for local, U.S. Senate, and state offices unaffected by the feud — governor, prosecutor general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and Ohio Supreme Court – and a separate primary for the Statehouse and congressional races pending finalized maps.
However, changing the date of a primary can be tedious, confusing and expensive – and holding two could be more so. But the GOP won’t be particularly keen to prolong the wrangling in its crowded and rowdy primary for an open U.S. Senate seat by moving all races to a later date.