COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Redistricting Commission is starting its fourth set of state legislative maps after the Ohio Supreme Court struck down the last three.
The commission has until Monday, March 28, to present the maps to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and one day later to the court.
The commission convened Saturday for a meeting where it set out a plan of action to complete the process in time.
The maps set up the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives maps and determine who residents will vote for to represent them at the statehouse.
Two independent mapmakers retained by Ohio Attorney General David Yost are being considered by the commission to help draw up the two redistricting maps.
The commission also agreed a mediator could be brought in later in the process to address any conflicts that should arise.
Over the next three days, the commission agreed to meet to recommend and approve the independent mapmakers and mediator, a process which several members of the commission said they look forward to.
“We’re hopeful,” said Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. “I think everyone wants to try to make it work. I think today was a good day, we made some real progress today.”
“I think it remains to be seen as to how well it all goes,” said Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp. “We’re hoping for the best.”
“But this is not the first time we’ve gone through this,” said Ohio Sen. Vernon Sykes. “This is the fourth version of this map, so I think we’re well down the road and we will make the deadline.”
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the three previous efforts of the commission as unconstitutional, with the court issuing its latest ruling Wednesday.
With its latest ruling, the court ordered the commission to hold “frequent” public meetings to “demonstrate their bipartisan efforts to reach a constitutional plan” before the deadline.
“I’m not really worried about the timeline of this, necessarily,” Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo said Saturday. “I think this is something we can do in the next 24 to 48 hours, but to me, it’s making sure that we are actively engaged in making the decision process, not we are being told who to pick.”
The delay in the approval of the maps, which, according to the Ohio Constitution, must accurately represent the political makeup of the state (54 percent Republican, 46 percent Democratic) while maintaining community structures above wrangling political leanings, has thrown a wrench into the May 3 primary election. LaRose said Friday in a letter that the ballots for the May 3 primary will not include races for Ohio Senate and House of Representatives.
LaRose estimated a second primary would cost the state between $20 million and $25 million. When Ohio held a second primary in 2011, it cost taxpayers $15 million.
The redistricting commission is scheduled to meet again Monday night at 7.