COLUMBUS – Ohio Redistricting Commission Co-Chair Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) and House Minority Leader and Commission member Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) responded to the ORC’s failure to adopt a new set of constitutional and fair state legislative maps by the May 6 Ohio Supreme Court deadline. Amid loud chants for fair maps from Ohioans, the majority of commissioners instead voted to adopt the third set of legislative maps, which were already ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court on March 16.
Ohioans chant for fair maps during today’s Redistricting Commission meeting. Click on photo to watch video.
“The majority has squandered our time, refused to work together and robbed Ohioans of the fairness they’ve demanded and deserve,” said Sen. Sykes. “We could have adopted a number of constitutional plans, including the maps that the independent map drawers created. Saying we didn’t have the time to comply is a highly irresponsible affront to the Ohio Supreme Court and to the people of the state of Ohio. Our work to end gerrymandering is not over, and I will not give up until Ohio has fair, constitutional maps.”
“We have a duty to Ohio voters and the Constitution to produce legal and fair state legislative districts,” said Leader Russo. “This is an egregious violation of the public’s trust in the democratic process and in the rule of law. We are witnessing an attempted coup by politicians in power who manufactured this crisis and failed to take court-ordered action. This isn’t over. Ohioans won’t forget that Republicans cheated them out of the fair, constitutional maps they demanded, and we will not give up.”
During today’s meeting, Democrats moved to adopt a modified version of the Ohio House and Senate maps drafted by the independent mapmakers in March. The independent state legislative maps are more compact than any maps adopted by the Commission, follow the requirements in the Constitution and the court orders, and reflect the statewide voting preferences of Ohioans.
In its last ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court emphasized that the independent mapmakers’ plan was a good starting point for the Commission to comply with the Court’s order. Though Republicans could not identify a single constitutional violation in the proposed plan, majority commissioners nevertheless rejected the motion to adopt their plan.
Since the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to comply with the Supreme Court’s order, the Court could choose to hold the Commissioners in contempt.