Equal Districts Coalition Denounces Republicans’ Proposed District Maps as Unconstitutional, Unacceptable

Last week, the Equal Districts Coalition — a unified group of 30+ Ohio advocacy organizations and unions engaged in the 2021 redistricting process — blasted the Republican members of the redistricting commission for voting to propose blatantly unconstitutional maps drawn behind closed doors.

“For the last decade, Ohioans have lived under some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country, and the Republicans managed to propose new maps that are even worse than the ones we have now,” said Katy Shanahan, Ohio State Director of All On The Line. “Our reform in 2015 was a flat rejection of what happened in 2011, when our maps were drawn behind closed doors to gerrymander the Republicans into supermajorities in seats that they just aren’t winning in votes at the ballot box. These proposed maps ignore everything we fought for in the reforms.”

The Republican-dominated commission voted along party lines to make the Republicans’ unconstitutional maps the official maps proposed by the commission. These maps, which were presented eight days past the deadline required by Ohio’s Constitution, are far less compact than the maps presented on time by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus and the citizen-led Ohio Citizens’ Redistricting Commission (OCRC).

“Ohio’s Constitution clearly says legislative map drawers must aim for representational fairness based on voters’ preferences over the past decade. It’s clear the Republicans ignored the Constitution in drafting their maps,” said Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio. “Republicans only win about 55 percent of Ohio’s vote. A constitutional map will not give them more than 55 percent of government seats.”

Based on initial review of the Republicans’ maps, they are unconstitutional and/or problematic in the following ways:
+ The Republicans’ proposed maps appear to preserve unearned Republican supermajorities in both chambers.
* The Ohio Constitution and federal law require map drawers to consider whether communities of color have adequate and real pathways to political representation. The Republican commissioners admitted publicly at today’s hearing that they did not take this into consideration.
+ The Republicans’ proposed maps crack and pack Ohio’s communities of color, diluting their political power and denying them adequate representation.
+ For example, Cuyahoga County — a county with a population that is more than 30 percent Black — would be unlikely to have even one Black state senator under these proposed maps.
+ Additionally, the state Senate map draws the Black communities in and around Dayton together with white, rural Preble, Drake and Miami counties, rather than connecting them with similar communities in Jefferson Township, Montgomery County.
+ In Lucas County, House map drawers drew rural northern Hancock County together with northwestern Toledo suburbs such as Sylvania — while simultaneously combining neighboring suburbs (Holland and Maumee) with Ottawa County rather than with Toledo.
+ Suburbs around major metros are drawn into questionable-looking districts that snake around metros to connect to rural areas. Medium-sized cities and suburbs are wholesale separated from larger cities/metros to dilute with rural areas.