COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Redistricting Commission will have a fifth shot to draw state legislative maps after the Ohio Supreme Court rejected its latest proposal — for the fourth time.
The seven-member commission, which approved “modified” versions of maps in late March that had already been deemed unconstitutional by the court, must reconvene and submit a new set of maps by 9 a.m. on May 6, according to a Thursday court entry from Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor.
In a 4-3 vote largely split down party lines, the Republican-majority commission rejected map proposals from two independent mapmakers that were called in to mediate the map-drawing process, instead offering their “modified” version.
“It’s not surprising the Ohio Supreme Court majority was like, ‘No get back to your room, time-out, you gotta do it again,'” Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said.
Although the Court has typically granted the commission an extra 10 days to draw a new set of maps, in this round of redistricting melee, commissioners were allotted double that amount of time.
The Court also recommended the commission start with the independent mapmakers’ work.
While Turcer said she was surprised the Court offered the commission more time to suggest another proposal, she said setting the deadline farther away was a practical move.
“Giving them a little bit more time, encouraging them to start with the map the independent mapmakers created and being very clear, ‘Hey, this is the deadline, but more time that seems like a sensible solution,'” Turcer said.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose released a statement Thursday in response to the Court’s question about why a a primary election couldn’t be held later than Aug. 2 for the legislative races.
LaRose said an election later than Aug. 2 could impact the November general election.
“The court’s majority ignores and, in fact, attempts to rewrite the key requirements of election administration literally spelled out in the law,” LaRose said in a statement.
The Ohio General Assembly has yet to determine an election date for statehouse races.
If legislators are concerned about holding a second primary, Turcer said the commission should get to work sooner rather than later.
“A deadline is not actually, doesn’t actually mean you have to wait to the deadline,” she said. “It’s just a deadline that was established by the courts — it’s like any of us, you can finish your homework early, you can finish your office work early — there’s no shame in that.”
While the fate of an election for Ohio’s statehouse races remains unclear, early voting is currently underway for the May 3 primary election.