Jan 14, 2022 - Politics

What's next for Ohio House, Senate redistricting

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Wednesday's Ohio Supreme Court redistricting ruling — invalidating the state legislative maps and ordering leaders to draw new ones — set off shockwaves in Buckeye State political circles.

Driving the news: The ruling orders the Ohio Redistricting Commission to reconvene and adopt new maps before Jan. 22.

  • "We also retain jurisdiction to review the plan that the commission adopts for compliance with our order," Justice Melody Stewart wrote in a majority opinion.

State of play: The seven-member commission features a 5-2 majority of statewide executive officeholders and legislative leaders.

  • Commission members have an incentive to work quickly: the filing deadline for legislative candidates is Feb. 2.
  • Candidates have until then to file paperwork and secure 50 valid signatures from constituents to reach the ballot — a perfunctory task made much more challenging if their district lines are not yet known.

Between the lines: There is also the possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but redistricting experts tell us this is unlikely and there is no indication Republicans will go that route.

  • We'll update you if that changes.

What we're watching: The ruling dinged commission members for drawing maps disproportionate to Ohio's voting preferences.

  • Republicans average around a 55% voting share in Statehouse elections, but the maps thrown out by the Supreme Court would have given them well over 60% of the seats.

The big question: Just how many seats will the commission's GOP majority "give up" in order to secure Supreme Court approval?

What they're saying: Fair maps activists making up the Ohio Equal Districts Coalition reveled in the court decision, but noted the work is not done.

  • "We have just 10 days to push the Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw maps that reflect how Ohioans actually vote. Our coalition is ready and eager to get to work," their statement reads.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement saying he "will work with my fellow Redistricting Commission members on revised maps that are consistent with the Court's order."
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