COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Just two months from Ohio’s primary election and two days from congressional candidates’ filing deadline, those candidates may finally know what district they want to represent.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission on Wednesday passed with a party-line, Republican-majority vote the map of Ohio’s 15 congressional districts for the next four years. The state Supreme Court still needs to approve it, however, to be official.
The map forms 10 Republican-leaning districts and five Democrat-leaning districts, although three of the latter have advantages of less than five percentage points.
The interactive map below shows which district you would live in and its partisan lean. Use the + or – buttons or your fingers to zoom in and out.
Columbus area implications
Franklin County would be split into two districts instead of its current three. Making up a large northeastern section of the county, Joyce Beatty’s District 3 would retain its heavy Democratic advantage.
The Republican-leaning District 15, which Mike Carey won in a special election last year, would welcome the rest of Franklin County. That district would go from being mostly east of Columbus to being mostly west.
As for surrounding areas, three heavily red districts would border Franklin County: District 2 to the south, District 4 to the northwest and District 12 to the east.
The western portion of Delaware County — including Delaware city — would move from District 12 to 4 and be represented by Jim Jordan instead of Troy Balderson.
Is this the final map?
Those who voted for the map Wednesday hope it’s the last in a process that began last fall and has dragged on while other states more smoothly finalize their maps. Multiple times the Ohio Supreme Court has declared Republican-drawn maps unconstitutional.
The latest map gets slightly better marks by nonpartisan map analysis website Dave’s Redistricting than did the first one passed by state lawmakers in November. On the site’s five-prong criteria that values things like compact boundaries and fairness to marginalized groups, the new map scores an average 46/100, compared to the November map’s 40/100.
Democrats and fair voting advocates, however, say it’s not enough of an improvement, especially when Republicans are favored in more districts than they would be if districts were split to Ohio’s roughly 55%-to-45% Republican-to-Democrat statewide voting tendency.
“We’re getting close, but the fact that the commissioners will not work across the aisle means we’re still getting maps that are gerrymandered and really don’t fairly represent the people of Ohio,” Jen Miller, director of Ohio’s League of Women Voters, said Wednesday.
Time is of the essence, however, to avoid pushing the primary election to the summer. The deadline for congressional candidates to file is Friday, and county election boards need to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters by March 18.
“As long as they get their programming done, as long as they get their ballots proofed and printed and that kind of thing, and as long as there aren’t successful court challenges,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Wednesday, “then these maps — these races — can be on the May 3rd ballot.”