How Ohio’s New US Congress Map Shot Into Law

How Ohio’s New US Congress Map Shot Into Law

Columbus, Ohio Congressional redistricting is the ambiguous but consequential process of redistricting the US House of Representatives districts every 10 years, which often goes unnoticed by citizens.

This week, a final congressional map of Ohio was shown through the legislature and signed by Republican Governor Mike DeWine on Saturday — all in less than five days. The map only received Republican support, which means it will only last for four years, not an entire decade as the process envisions.

Ohio’s new map includes six safe Republican seats, two safe Democratic seats and seven seats that Republicans say are competitive, but groups that advocate for voting rights, Democrats and academics say they are still leaning the way of the Republican Party. The state has lost one of its 16 current congressional seats due to a slowdown in the population recorded in the 2020 census.


David Nevin, a professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, said maps drawn to take advantage of a political party, called gerrymandering, have played a role in the escalating, even deadly, tensions that have emerged in the United States in recent years, as Americans feel that their government had never heard of before. .

“I am fully aware that constituency manipulation is a kind of abstraction, and it calls for a certain eye polish when you start talking about it,” Niven said, “but it also touches on every issue you care about.”

Here’s a look at how Ohio’s congressional map turned into law at the last minute:

How was the system supposed to work?

In Ohio, voters approved a new system that began this year that was supposed to ensure meaningful participation by both parties in a fairer and more transparent mapping process. The result is maps that have not been pieced together, dismantled, or electorate blocs manipulated in an “unnecessary” manner in favor of one party or its occupants.


Under Version 1, a 2018 constitutional amendment approved by nearly 75% of the electorate, the state legislature can adopt a 10-year map with 60% of members in both Ohio House and Ohio Senate, including 50% of Republicans and 50% of Democrats.

If they fail, the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission, which was created by a similar 2015 amendment aimed at legislative redistricting reform, will get its chance. If that committee fails to pass a bipartisan map, lawmakers will get another chance. In the second round, support from one-third of the members of each major party was required for the 10-year plan.

If all that fails, a 4-year map—the one now in Ohio—could be passed by a simple majority, along partisan lines.

Where does the system crash?

A better question might be: Where did it not collapse? The legislature missed the initial deadline to attempt a 10-year map, and then the redistricting committee missed its mark, too. None of the Republican-controlled bodies have held any hearings, and may be discouraged by the failure to win Democrats’ support on the House and Senate district maps passed in September.


From there, House and Senate government committees picked up the ball, opening testimony on the same day over competing Republican proposals, which expert map watchers determined were deeply skewed toward their party’s election. The Democrats threw their map proposals into the mix. Neither committee voted to recommend a final map.

Opponents of the Republican plans had hoped for a joint congressional redistricting committee, a bipartisan committee of senators and representatives required by Number 1. The committee could have sat any time this year, but it didn’t eventually materialize until About three weeks before the November 30 redistricting deadline. Two passionate sessions were held on four separate maps. Again, nothing was decided, and no compromise was found. The meeting adjourned abruptly without a clear statement of what would happen next.


“They were so far from pursuing a fair bipartisan plan that they couldn’t even begin to agree on the basic building blocks of a bipartisan plan,” Niven said.

How fast does the final map move?

The following Monday, at just 8 p.m., Republican House Speaker Bob Cobb released a final map drawn by the Republican Party. As advocates, scholars, and Democrats not involved in the process were quick to understand the last frontier, a Senate committee hearing was hastily scheduled for the following morning.

The commission met on Tuesday, heard mostly angry testimonies, and then voted, sending the map to a successful instant vote. Her House counterpart took the map the next day, and approved it. A House vote sealed the deal on Thursday. DeWine signed it into law about 30 hours later.


Did the late census results cause a rush?

Yes and no. Usually, Ohio and other states would have received their updated population numbers on April 1. Instead, coronavirus-related delays delayed their arrival by more than four months.

Ohio Republicans took early action to address the problem. Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit in March to try to force an earlier release of the census numbers. A federal judge threw out the lawsuit, although subsequent negotiations speeded things up somewhat. In May, Republican Senate Speaker Matt Hoffman, the author of Issue 1 who wields significant influence in the process, proposed a fast-moving constitutional amendment that would extend redistricting deadlines on a one-time basis. But the Democrats refused and the plan was scrapped.


However, a coalition of voting and labor rights groups argued in April that much could have been accomplished even without the data. This included releasing planning and research funds, launching public websites, appointing committee members and holding hearings involving experts in political science, mapping, data, legal and voting rights experts, as well as members of the public. The first public hearing on a legislative map or map of Congress was held on August 23.

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