By Jaanvi Kaur and Veronica Miller
COLUMBUS, OH –The Ohio Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling this week, struck down proposed revised House and Senate redistricting maps in Ohio as unconstitutional factional gerrymanders.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission was ordered by the court to start the drawing process again for a third time.
This time, the State Supreme Court has ordered that they comply with the Ohio Constitution requirements. These requirements include not favoring either party and to have it closely meet the preferences of Ohio voters.
The Commission’s original set of maps was struck down on Jan. 12 by the high court. The commission was told to revise the legislative plan for the second time, which was again struck down on Jan. 22.
On Jan. 26, The American Civil Liberties Union as well as the ACLU of Ohio filed objections stating that these plans showed evidence of partisan bias and multiple violations of Section 6.
The Ohio Supreme Court will retain jurisdiction in reviewing this plan and has given the Ohio Redistricting Commission until Feb. 17 to draw their third remedial map. They also need to file with the court on the morning of Feb. 18.
Time appears to be of the essence—the filing deadline for candidates to state legislative seats has already passed, and the primary will be on May 3.
Freda Levenson, the legal director for the ACLU of Ohio stated, “The public officials entrusted to draw our legislative maps again disregarded their sacred duty to follow our Constitution…hopefully, in their third attempt to draw these maps, the commission will take seriously the court’s admonition to follow the law.”
Levenson continued, “It’s really quite simple: refrain from gerrymandering our state.”
Executive Director of the League of Women Voters in Ohio, Jen Miller said, “Once again, we commend the Ohio Supreme Court for standing with voters and rejecting partisan gerrymandering. For our representative democracy to work, Ohioans need districts that are fair and responsive to voters, rather than rigged for political interests.
“We stand ready to work with the Ohio Redistricting Commission to create maps that truly uphold the Ohio Constitution and the rights of every Ohio voter,” Miller added.
In the Court order it states, “Section 6(B) requires the commission to attempt to draft a plan in which the statewide proportion of districts whose voters ‘favor’ each party closely corresponds to the statewide voter’s preferences. Here, the quality and degree of favoritism in each party’s allocated districts is grossly disparate.”
Andre Washington, president of the Ohio A. Philip Randolph Institute, said, “Ohio voters will not accept less than what we fought for at the ballot box in 2015. The Ohio Redistricting Commission now has a third opportunity to draw fair districts. We demand they follow the rules and deliver a map that does not favor one party over the other.”