COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Ohio Redistricting Commission’s attempts to draw a fifth round of state legislative district maps came to an explosive end Wednesday.
After the commission’s five Republican members voted against using maps drawn by independent mapmakers who were brought in to hasten the process — which cost taxpayers $100,000 — bystanders chanted for fair maps and newly appointed commission co-chair Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township) abruptly adjourned the meeting.
Despite orders from the Ohio Supreme Court to devise a new set of state legislative maps by May 6, the seven-member commission once again did not present a proposal. The court deemed four previous map drawings as unconstitutional.
“We’ve made contact with the majority members over these last twenty days and trying to get some agreement to work on maps, and they just refuse and refuse to even meet until today with the conclusion, their conclusion is we should not move forward,” Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), one of the commission’s co-chairs, said.
The months-long redistricting battle and a lack of state legislative district maps is why Ohio will have a second primary election, no later than Aug. 2, which will cost taxpayers roughly $25 million.
“Look, no one is happy with where this process is,” Gov. Mike DeWine, who sits on the commission, said. “I don’t think you can find one person that’s happy about it. This is not what was intended by the voters, not what was intended by anyone.”
Shortly after the meeting concluded, the commission announced its plans to meet again at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday — just one day before their court-ordered May 6 deadline.
“I don’t know why people are ignoring a state Supreme Court,” Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington), who sits on the commission, said. “A state Supreme Court can still hold this commission — and if this is how this commission is going to proceed forward — it can hold us in contempt and the commission in contempt.”