Oct 5, 2021 - Politics

Congressional redistricting still stalled

Illustration of scattered red and blue jigsaw puzzle pieces.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

We've seen little public progress in redrawing Ohio's congressional districts despite officials having already missed a recent deadline.

Why it matters: The results of this redistricting process will shape Ohioans' political representation in Washington, D.C. for the next decade.

  • This is the first redistricting attempt since Ohio voters reformed the process via constitutional amendments in 2015 and 2018.

The latest: State lawmakers were supposed to have the first crack at new congressional maps but instead took no action and missed the Sept. 30 deadline.

  • The Ohio Redistricting Commission, a seven-member panel made up of legislative leaders and statewide elected officials, will now take over.

State of play: Republicans hold a 5-2 majority on the commission, but the new redistricting rules favor bipartisanship.

  • A bipartisan map will be in effect for 10 years, as opposed to four years if the Democrats reject it.

The big picture: The process of drawing new federal maps for Congress is separate from the one involving new state maps for politicians serving in Columbus.

Flashback: State redistricting went poorly, with officials blaming the delay in receiving U.S. Census Bureau data.

  • Even Republican members of the redistricting commission criticized the mapmaking process despite approving the new Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate districts.
  • The two Democrats on the commission voted against the maps, and a slew of lawsuits are now contesting their constitutionality to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Of note: We asked legislative spokespeople for details on the commission's congressional district plans this month, and were told no October hearings have been scheduled yet.

What they're saying: "We are in a frustrating place," said Katy Shanahan, state director for All on the Line, a left-leaning anti-gerrymandering group that wants the commission to meet as soon as possible and give the public ample time to review the draft maps.

What's next: The commission has 26 days to secure bipartisan support for a new congressional map.

  • If members fail, the process is sent back to the Republican-state legislature to try again.

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