“This is probably the messiest, most difficult action that a quasi-legislative body has to take,” Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said.
The newly adopted maps help both incumbent Republicans and Democrats keep their seats. The new maps will likely put 23 Republicans in the Ohio Senate, compared to the 26 seats they currently hold; there are 33 total Senate seats. And the House maps likely put 61 Republicans in the Ohio House, compared to the 56 seats they hold; there are 99 total House seats.
“I do commend this commission for showing future commissions a bipartisan way to get there,” Auditor of State Keith Faber (R-Ohio) said.
Despite the maps being approved by all Democrats and Republicans on the commission, the approval is empowering groups to call for change in the map-making process.
Executive Director for League of Women Voters of Ohio, Jen Miller said politicians need to be taken out of the process.
“Both parties, Republicans and Democrats will rig maps for their favors,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, politicians are going to politician.”
Huffman said taking elected officials out of the process is not representative of democracy.
“That’s not what our constitution says,” Huffman said.
A group called “Citizens not Politicians” has submitted a proposed constitutional amendment to the attorney general’s office three times. Their proposal would create a 15-member commission, five Republicans, five Democrats and five Independents to draw maps.
“All with one goal to fairly draw districts that treat every voter equally and so that at the end of the day our representation is meaningful,” Miller said.
Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said she is supportive of the idea.
“I think it’s very difficult to be objective in the roles we have and the work we do,” Antonio said.
The proposal for the commission would not allow any current or former politicians or lobbyists to be part of the map-making process. Miller said the bi-partisan approval of maps just further signals why the process needs to change.
“They are going to put their own short-sighted interests in getting re-elected before the rights of Ohio voters,” Miller said.
Faber said he believes the proposed constitutional amendment would do more harm than good.
“It is impossible to take politics out of a political process like redistricting,” Faber said.
By Monday, the attorney general will approve or deny the language for the “Citizens not Politicians” amendment. The group’s goal is to put the question in front of voters in November 2024.