Redistricting: Ohio Republicans Defy the State Constitution
“Ohio Republicans defy the Constitution and spit in the face of the voters of Ohio.” In most cases this would be a shocking headline, but of late it has been a near daily occurrence. The evolving and lengthy constitutional crisis created by Ohio Republicans is drawing national scorn, causing mayhem amongst election administrators and confusion amongst Ohio voters, in addition to burning millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money. But what is new? This is the same party that offered a billion dollar bailout to support a coal plant in Indiana and line the pockets of Republican leaders and Lobbyists through exorbitant bribes. So to Republicans, this is just another day in the park and a slap in the face to Ohioans who just want fair maps.
As of this writing (March 28th), the state legislative (State House and Senate) map has been tossed out 3 times by the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Congressional map has been tossed out twice. Following the most recent ruling on March 16th, the Ohio Redistricting Commission, composed of 5 Republicans and 2 Democrats, must hire independent mapmakers to draw the next set of maps, one chosen by the Republicans and one chosen by the Democrats. Over the weekend, the two map makers have been working in an impressively transparent manner, with a live feed of the workroom and the computers running 24/7, a level which has never been seen in the country and that I hope becomes the norm, not the exception. The mapmakers presented their proposals on Sunday evening at a meeting that lasted for hours and revealed that while fair maps are possible, the Republicans will throw every wrench in the process to run out the clock and get the Federal courts to allow unconstitutional maps to be used in the primary. The commission has until 11:59 tonight (March 28th) to approve new assembly maps. Time will tell if they actually do.
The congressional map was also tossed out, and the latest one, passed days after the deadline has not been struck down…..yet. The challengers of the previous maps, the League of Women Voters and other advocacy groups, have decided that it is too late to have fair maps this year and we should wait until 2024 instead: a slap in the face for all those who spent so much time collecting signatures and advocating for a constitutional amendment for fair maps. Justice delayed is justice denied, plain and simple.
So what does this mean for the primary? Your guess is as good as mine! We know that the Secretary of State, Frank Larose, has directed that boards of elections remove all state legislative candidates from the ballot, in addition to State Party Central Committee seats, which are based off of Senate maps. Larose also today filed a motion to move the Primary so that all races can be held in one election, a move he has objected to from the beginning of the crisis. So what comes next? Who knows! But I encourage you to keep informed on what is happening, keep putting pressure on the Republicans, and keep voters informed about the Republican created constitutional crisis that is costing Ohioans millions.
Clark County Democratic Party Chair Addendum
Since writing the above much has transpired in the fight for fair maps and unfortunately, it is another grave reminder that Ohio Republicans do not care about the law, the courts, or the voters. Even more shockingly, they have given up the façade that they actually care about those fundamental aspects of our democracy. This afternoon as the independent mapmakers were presenting their current versions and working on making requested changes, the Speaker of the Ohio House, Bob Cupp, introduced the same map that had recently been struck down. This map, with just 24 precincts changed across the entire state, fixes none of the issues the court has demanded, and was created entirely under a veil of secrecy. Throughout the evening as the commission was recessed, it was revealed that this had been the plan all along, have the public focused on the independent mapmakers landmark transparency, while the Republicans introduced hurdle after hurdle, delaying the process and with the drama of the clock ticking out, introduced and passed the previously struck-down map. While there will likely be objections and this map will be struck down again, the Ohio Republican Party has spat in the face of democracy, denied the will of voters, and most importantly ignored the demands of the Ohio Supreme Court. Many hope that the court will find the commissioners in contempt, a wish I also share, but alas, it seems that Republicans see no end to the illegal and dirty tricks they will do to hold on to power they never deserved and today proved that very point.