Republicans Have Broken the Redistricting Process in Ohio
September 8, 2023
TO: Reporters and Editors
FROM: Matt Keyes, Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director
RE: Republicans Have Broken the Redistricting Process in Ohio
As Ohio gears up for the latest round of redistricting, Ohio voters are still paying the price for last year’s process. Republican politicians – who oversee what the FBI has deemed the most corrupt statehouse in the nation – purposefully flouted the law and used the process for their own political benefit. And created two, multi-million dollar, taxpayer-funded primary elections in the process.
Today, Ohio Democrats are reminding any out-of-touch GOP politicians looking to once again gerrymander our state: voters are watching and ready to remove them from the process if they ignore the law.
In 2015 and 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved two separate ballot measures to reform Ohio’s redistricting process. The reforms included certain political proportionality requirements to make sure redistricting did not favor one party over another. It also set certain standards for areas of Ohio that had typically been heavily gerrymandered. Last, it required public input that would allow Ohioans to have their say in the process.
However, Republicans repeatedly manipulated the redistricting process to force on Ohioans GOP-gerrymandered maps that did not meet proportionality requirements, that clearly favored Republicans over Democrats and that didn’t even reflect feedback made by their own taxpayer-funded mapmakers, let alone Ohio voters.
The Ohio Supreme Court bipartisanly rejected a total of 7 maps produced by Republicans on the Redistricting Commission. Republicans on the commission repeatedly ignored Court rulings and deadlines, stalling and delaying – despite repeated calls from Democrats to meet – and ultimately relying on politically-friendly judges to temporarily rubberstamp their maps and implement GOP-gerrymandered maps for 2022.
Now, as we begin the process again, voters will be watching carefully to see if these out-of-touch politicians once again try to force through gerrymandered maps in a shortened timeframe that limits public input and rigs Ohio’s democracy against voters. If they do, we are ready to take the process out of the hands of politicians and back into the hands of the people.
Republicans in their own words:
Here’s a sampling of what Republicans had to say in their own words about the broken process and flawed maps:
- Texting with Chief of Staff Merle Merle Madrid about the maps, LaRose wrote: “This rationale is asinine. I should vote no.” LaRose then did what he always does and voted for the maps, silencing Ohioans to support this political ambitions.
- Frank LaRose, as reported by Cleveland.com: “I fear we’re going to be back in this room very soon. This map has many shortcomings, but they pale in comparison to the shortcomings of this process.”
- Mike DeWine, as reported by Cleveland.com: “I have felt throughout this process that the committee could have produced a more clearly constitutional bill. That’s not the bill that we have in front of us.”
- Mike DeWine to the Toledo Blade editorial board: “It didn’t work, and we need to fix it. Taking it out of the hands, frankly, of elected officials is probably a good idea.”
- Keith Faber, as reported by Spectrum News, after he voted no on one of the unconstitutional maps: “I understand the desire to have a map. I understand the desire to send a map to the Supreme Court that they will uphold. But again, I’m not going to, I’ve said all along, I’m not going to violate my view of the Constitution merely to get a map done.”
- Keith Faber to Cleveland.com: “I think there’s a decent chance this map won’t make the court’s test.”
2021-2022 Redistricting Timeline
August, 2021 – Ohio Redistricting Commission beings work the first week of August and cites concerns over delays on delayed census figures
September 1, 2021 – Ohio Redistricting Commission misses deadline to produce a map by September 1
September 15, 2021 – The Redistricting Commission passes a gerrymandered state legislative map along party lines
October 31, 2021 – Ohio Redistricting Commission misses deadline to pass congressional map
November 18, 2021 – Ohio General Assembly passes gerrymandered congressional maps, largely along party lines
November 20, 2021 – Mike DeWine signs the gerrymandered congressional map into law, claiming it was the best map that had been proposed in the General Assembly and initiating a slew of legal challenges. DeWine also went on record saying he expected the process to be settled in court.
January 12, 2022 – Following hearings, first legislative maps ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court 4-3
January 14, 2022 – Following hearings, first congressional maps ruled unconstitutional by Ohio Supreme Court 4-3
January 22, 2022 – Republicans on the commission yet again jammed through a gerrymandered statehouse map, voting along party lines, citing shortened timetable as reasoning for a partisan map
February 7, 2022 – Following additional legal challenges, the second set of legislative maps rejected by the Supreme Court 4-3
February 21, 2022 – Ohio Supreme Court orders redistricting commission members to explain why they should not be held in contempt; a move labeled as extraordinary by Ohio media
February 24, 2022 – Republicans on the redistricting commission jam the third set of gerrymandered legislative maps through the approval process, again citing condensed timetable for no 10-year map. Democrats were never involved in the drawing process and only saw maps shortly before hearing. Maps passed commission largely along party lines with Keith Faber siding with Democrats;
February 24, 2022 – Ohio Supreme Court initially orders redistricting commission to appear in person to face contempt of court charges
February 25, 2022 – Ohio Supreme Court continues contempt of court hearing for redistricting commission members to an unspecified date
February 28, 2022 – Ohio Association of Elections requests May 3 Primary delay
March 2, 2022 – Ohio Republicans jam second set of congressional maps through approval process along party lines
March 4, 2022 – Late in the evening, Frank LaRose requested a waiver for overseas Ohioans (especially those serving in the military) to have a shortened voting period. The move was ultimately rejected by the Department of Defense.
March 16, 2022 – Third set of legislative maps approved by commission ruled unconstitutional by Ohio Supreme Court
March 21, 2022 – Federal court case using a three-judge panel to rule on legislative maps begins. Two judges chosen are Trump-appointed Republicans
March 28, 2022 – Republicans ignore maps produced by independent mapmakers, pass fourth set of gerrymandered maps that members of the commission saw only minutes before they passed. Faber votes with Democrats, but Republican majority passes maps.
April 14, 2022 – Ohio Supreme Court rejects fourth set of GOP-gerrymandered maps, saying the maps barely changed from previous versions ruled unconstitutional and that they violated redistricting reforms passed by Ohio voters.
April 20, 2022 – Federal panel announces that if commission does not redraw statehouse maps by May 28, Court will implement statehouse maps previously rejected by Ohio Supreme Court.
May 5, 2022 – Republicans on the Redistricting Commission resubmit third map to Ohio Supreme Court, a map that the court has already rejected.
May 25, 2022 – Ohio Supreme Court rejects GOP-gerrymandered statehouse maps for the fifth time, orders commission to draw ‘entirely new’ maps by June 3
May 27, 2022 – Federal court implements gerrymandered statehouse maps
July 19, 2022 – Ohio Supreme Court finds second congressional map unconstitutional, orders commission to redraw new maps for 2024
August 2, 2022 – Ohio holds an unprecedented second primary election on illegal statehouse districts, costing taxpayers an additional $20 million