Political mapping body approves previously rejected plan | Ohio News

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The next set of proposed boundaries for new state legislative districts have arrived at the Ohio Supreme Court, which is set to decide for the fourth time whether the maps are constitutionally valid.

The likelihood of the court approving these maps already seemed uncertain, after the state’s political mapping agency created them Monday night from a set of previously rejected maps.

In a related development, the still-contested new Congressional maps will likely remain in place for the May 3 primary, according to a schedule for hearing arguments in the case set by the state Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. Arguments and counter-arguments were scheduled long after the primary.

The GOP-controlled Ohio Redistricting Commission approved these Congressional maps on March 2 despite objections from Democrats that they unfairly favor Republicans.

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Late Monday, the redistricting commission voted 4-3 along mostly partisan lines to revive a set of slightly modified legislative maps already rejected by the Supreme Court earlier this month. In doing so, the commission set aside the efforts of two freelance mapmakers paid $450 an hour over the past four days to draw new maps in a work viewed step-by-step online.

Four Republicans — Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Senate Speaker Matt Huffman, House Speaker Bob Cupp and Gov. Mike DeWine — voted in favor of the changed maps.

Republican State Auditor Keith Faber joined state Sen. Vernon Sykes, a Democrat from Akron, and Rep. Allison Russo, the leading House Democrat, in rejecting the cards.

Cupp called the vote “the best that can be done in the time allotted to us by the Supreme Court.”

Democrats have strongly criticized this decision. Russo called it a “slap in the face to Ohio voters” who ignored the Supreme Court’s order to draw constitutional maps.

“There seems to be no end to supermajority arrogance,” Sykes said, referring to the Republican majority in the House and Senate.

“Sheer disgust,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters, after the vote. She suggested that a ballot might be needed to create a fully independent redistricting commission.

Throughout Monday, the redistricting commission waited for the final results from its two freelance cartographers who worked all weekend on new maps.

Late in the afternoon, the commission reversed course and voted 5-2 to revive the maps previously declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Ohio and make some adjustments to them in hopes of fixing the problems identified. by the court.

A “safety valve” was needed to ensure the commission met the Supreme Court’s midnight deadline on Monday, Huffman said.

“If we’re not going to land the plane, it would be nice to have a parachute,” he said.

The state Supreme Court rejected the three previous sets of Ohio House and Senate maps drawn by the panel, ruling by a 4-3 vote each time the plans were unconstitutionally manipulated to unduly favor the Republicans.

Ohioans overwhelmingly supported a 2015 constitutional amendment that required the redistricting commission to at least try to avoid partisan patronage and proportionally distribute districts to reflect the 54% Republican, 46% Democrat split in the Ohio.

Maps approved Monday night, created by GOP staffers, move closer to the 54% to 46% goal by decreasing the number of competitive districts that favor Democrats, Republicans said.

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